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French Open: Serena Williams says she can be better than before pregnancy break

  • Posted: May 31, 2018
French Open 2018
Venue: Roland Garros, Paris Dates: 27 May-10 June
Coverage: Daily live radio and text commentaries on BBC Radio 5 live, the BBC Sport website and app.

American Serena Williams believes she can play even better than she did before she took a break from tennis to give birth.

The 36-year-old defeated Australia’s 17th seed Ashleigh Barty 3-6 6-3 6-4 to reach the third round of the French Open – her first Grand Slam since winning the 2017 Australian Open.

“I’m probably not where I was before I left,” said the 23-time major winner.

I felt like in the first set I didn’t play bad – I just didn’t make any shots

Serena Williams

“I’m definitely going to get there, but I also want to get beyond there.”

Williams will meet 11th seed Julia Goerges in the last 32 after the German beat former French Open quarter-finalist Alison van Uytvanck of Belgium 7-5 7-6 (7-5).

Serena survives tougher test

After her opening match, Williams played down her chances of winning a joint-record 24th Slam, saying she was not putting any pressure on herself to equal Margaret Court’s tally so soon into her comeback from a difficult birth.

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Williams, who said she was “lucky to survive” the birth, has spoken about Olympia being the main focus in her life, but also made it clear she had not lost any of her will to win.

And it showed against Barty, after it had looked initially as if the American would be exiting at the second stage – something she has not done in a Slam since the 2014 tournament at Roland Garros.

A double fault at 0-30 in the sixth game presented Barty with the first opportunity of the match, one she was gifted when Williams planted a forehand well long.

The former world number one offered little threat on the serve of the Australian, who closed out the opener in 28 minutes.

Barty broke in the opening game of the second set, but Williams showed fight to wipe out that advantage in the next game and win the following three for a commanding 4-1 lead.

With the backing of half-full Chatrier on a late Paris evening, Williams’s rhythm continued to improve and she served out the set with an ace as the match ticked past the hour mark.

The American broke in the third game of the decider, but missed a decent chance to break again for 4-1.

Her path to victory, though, was only held up by an extended Mexican Wave from the Chatrier crowd, which had the umpire begging for quiet and left Williams laughing.

She regained composure to hold for a 5-3 lead and, after after missing a match point on Barty’s serve, took her second with a thumping backhand winner down the line to the delight of the crowd.

Williams added: “I felt like in the first set I didn’t play bad. I just didn’t make any shots. So I guess it is bad. But I had all the right ideas, like coming to the net and hitting all my shots. They just weren’t going in.

“For me, that was kind of like a positive thing, because it wasn’t like I was playing the ultimate match. I was just making so many errors.

“I thought I’ve got to cut down on the errors, and I’ve just got to come out here and fight. And that’s what I did.”


Russell Fuller, BBC tennis correspondent

The versatile Barty outfoxed Williams in the opening set, and the Australian got off to a flyer in the second when the current world number 451 played an awful service game.

She framed a smash and put a regulation drive volley into the net to drop serve, and yet within a game the whole tenor of the match had changed.

Williams let out a spectacular roar after a backhand service return winner, and a rather uncertain crowd took that as a cue to wake up.

Like so many before her, Barty did start to make more errors in the face of such an intense presence. But in just her second clay court match in two years, there was enough evidence to suggest Williams can also pose a significant threat to others here at Roland Garros.

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Zverev, Djokovic Lead Roland Garros Fourth-Round Hopefuls

  • Posted: May 31, 2018

Zverev, Djokovic Lead Roland Garros Fourth-Round Hopefuls

Dimitrov-Verdasco, Goffin-Monfils also on Friday’s docket

You have to wonder, somewhere deep inside Alexander Zverev’s head, was there a doubt swirling around, saying “Here we go, again?”

Zverev has won three ATP World Tour Masters 1000 titles but never reached the quarter-final of a Grand Slam. And during his second-round match on Wednesday at Roland Garros, the 21-year-old fell behind two sets to one against Serbian Dusan Lajovic, who has been playing fine clay-court tennis, having reached the quarter-finals at the Mutua Madrid Open.

At the Australian Open, Zverev was in a similar spot, and faded. He led two sets to one against reigning Next Gen ATP Finals champion Hyeon Chung, but lost the last two 3-6, 0-6.

On Wednesday, however, perhaps Zverev turned a corner. The German came back to beat Lajovic 2-6, 7-5, 4-6, 6-1, 6-2. “I know if I’m doing the right things and if I do the right work I’ll win those long matches, and the success will come itself. This is not something I think of on a daily basis,” Zverev said.

You May Also Like: Relief For Zverev, Survives A Scare In Paris

Can he keep it going and reach the fourth round in Paris for the first time and match his best Grand Slam result (Wimbledon 2017)? The 21-year-old will face two-time ATP World Tour titlist Damir Dzumhur of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The scrappy 5’9” Dzumhur survived a five-setter against Radu Albot of Moldova to make the third round, tying his best Grand Slam result. Dzumhur is 0-4 in third-round matches at Grand Slams.

Watch: Born Into War, Dzumhur’s Inspirational Journey To ATP Titlist

Novak Djokovic, 2016 champion, hasn’t dropped a set thus far in Paris, but will face his toughest test yet when he meets 13th seed Roberto Bautista Agut for the eighth time. Djokovic leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 6-1, including all three matchups on clay. But the Spaniard beat Djokovic on a big stage, during the semi-finals of the Rolex Shanghai Masters in 2016.

Djokovic is trying reach the Round of 16 in Paris for the 12th time. If he does, it will mark his 43rd journey to a Grand Slam fourth round, and he will join Jimmy Connors in second place for the most fourth-round appearances at Grand Slam championships in the Open Era.

Most Grand Slam Round of 16 Appearances (Open Era)


No. of appearances

Roger Federer


Jimmy Connors


Novak Djokovic


Andre Agassi


Ivan Lendl


Rafael Nadal


Grigor Dimitrov’s path to his first Roland Garros Round of 16 becomes only harder on Friday. The fourth seed meets Spain’s Fernando Verdasco, who has beaten Dimitrov twice, including earlier this year at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.

Dimitrov escaped the second round 10-8 in the fifth set against Jared Donaldson of the U.S. Verdasco will try to reach the Round of 16 in Paris for the seventh time. Their FedEx ATP Head2Head series is tied at 2-2, and all four matchups have gone the distance.

Seventh seed Dominic Thiem and top French hope Lucas Pouille will play for the third consecutive day. Thiem exacted revenge against #NextGenATP Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas, who had beaten the Austrian last month in Barcelona, winning the fourth set on Thursday to close out their darkness-delayed match. Thiem plays Italian Matteo Berrettini for the first time.

Pouille needed only a set more on Thursday as well before advancing past Brit Cameron Norrie. The 15th seed meets Russian Karen Khachanov for the third time this year (1-1). Win once more, and Pouille can celebrate his best showing at his home Grand Slam. Khachanov will look to return to the fourth round for the second consecutive year and match his best Grand Slam result.

In other action, eighth seed David Goffin faces 32nd seed and home favourite Gael Monfils; 19th seed Kei Nishikori plays a Frenchman for the third consecutive time in Gilles Simon; and 10th seed Pablo Carreno Busta will play Italian Mario Cecchinato, who won his maiden ATP World Tour title at the Gazprom Hungarian Open in April.

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Delpo 1, Reporter 0

  • Posted: May 31, 2018

Delpo 1, Reporter 0

Del Potro will next face Ramos-Vinolas

Do not test Juan Martin del Potro’s knowledge of Roland Garros history. The Argentine, always prepared on the court, has been doing his homework off the court as well, as he showed on Thursday during his press conference.

Q. This is not a question about the match, but I wondered, do you know who Roland Garros was?
Del Potro: Yes.

Q. Can you tell us?
Del Potro: He was an aviator. A-ha. You’re surprised?

Q. You’re the first person in here that’s got that.
Del Potro: Because they asked me a few days ago and I Google it.

Del Potro was also sharp on the court on Thursday, winning his second-round match against Frenchman Julien Benneteau, who was playing his final match in Paris. The Argentine will next meet Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas, who beat #NextGenATP Norwegian Casper Ruud. Read Report

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ATP Firsts: Fabio Fognini

  • Posted: May 31, 2018

ATP Firsts: Fabio Fognini

The six-time ATP World Tour titlist shares how he honoured his childhood pet with a tattoo

Italian Fabio Fognini has troubled the greatest of players on a clay court. Fognini has beaten Rafael Nadal twice, and pushed the Spaniard to three sets earlier this month in Rome.

Italy’s No. 1, though, hasn’t let the close call at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia slow him down. The 18th seed is through to the third round at Roland Garros for the second consecutive year. Fognini sat down with to talk about his “ATP Firsts.” 

First pinch-me moment on the ATP World Tour
[In 2006], I was playing qualies at Buenos Aires, and I made it through the main draw and I was playing [Carlos] Moya and I lost 6-4 in the third, and then he won the tournament.

First thing I bought with prize money
I live in Italy, so I bought a house first of all, because I think it’s the most important thing in your life, and after that a car, nothing else… It’s a nice apartment, it’s 125, 130 metres squared.

More ATP Firsts: Donaldson | Schwartzman | M. Zverev

How fast have you gone in your car?
Well, I can’t tell you right now because…

Only up to the speed limit?
Of course.

First autograph/photo I got
When I was young, because I was living close to the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters… with the school, we went there to watch the tournament. I had a picture with [Goran] Ivanisevic.

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First pet
I had one when I was really young, when I was 4-15. I had one in Italy and when he died, I was really, really sad. I have a tattoo of him also. When he died, I made one. Good memory. Ralph…. [The tattoo is] on my hip… ‘Never Without You’ or something.

First time I flew first class
I think when I was Top 100. That was my goal. I had never flown business class because I had to do something before flying business class. So I think when I was Top 100, and it was the end of the year, I was No. 95, No. 94 and the next flight I flew to Australia main draw, I flew business… It was nice. Of course it’s a long trip, so it’s a lot of hours inside the plane. So it was nice.

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Difficult Times For Emotional Bautista Agut

  • Posted: May 31, 2018

Difficult Times For Emotional Bautista Agut

Days after mother’s death, Spaniard set to play Djokovic in third round at Roland Garros

Following his second-round win at Roland Garros (d. Giraldo 6-4, 7-5, 6-3), Roberto Bautista Agut didn’t avoid the media. He also didn’t dodge questions about his mother who passed away on 21 May, or the toll it’s taken on him at Roland Garros. The Spaniard is set to play 20th seed Novak Djokovic for a place in the fourth round.

“Honestly, being here helps take my mind off everything that’s happened over the past several days. I’d rather be playing here at Roland Garros than sulking at home,” Bautista Agut said. “I need to keep pushing on. Tennis is my life, these tournaments are my life. As soon as I was able, I got back to my usual routine and that’s helped so much. I played really well against Santiago and I felt great doing so. They say it isn’t good to bring your personal life or feelings on to the court and I agree, but I’m playing well so that’s all that matters.”

It’s hard to believe the 13th-seeded Bautista Agut is even competing at Roland Garros, let alone at the level he has performed so far. His determination has never been questioned, but the Spaniard has demonstrated the ultimate amount of heart so far in Paris.

“What has happened to me has been a terrible thing and it takes time to overcome,” Bautista Agut said. “All the support I’ve had from back home, from friends of my parents, from acquaintances … everyone is helping me through this. I’ve gained strength from their support. I’m thankful, from the bottom of my heart.”

Several of Bautista Agut’s comrades have rallied behind him during these difficult times, including fellow Spaniards Pablo Carreno Busta, Fernando Verdasco and Feliciano Lopez. The players sent their condolences, along with a flower wreath in a show of support. They also praised Bautista Agut’s courage to play and show a brave face when others might have folded.

“Things that happen off the court have an effect on a player when he steps on the court,” Carreno Busta explained. “People don’t realise it or consider it as a factor during a match, but a personal issue affects how a player performs and the outcome of a match. I’ve never gone through what Roberto is going through right now so I can’t say ‘I know how you feel.’ All I can say is he’s won a lot of support by soldiering on. I’m always happy for him, but even more so considering how much he has suffered.”

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Verdasco credits Bautista Agut’s work ethic and will power as the reasons he’s been able to perform despite playing with a heavy heart.

“Honestly, if I put myself in his place, I don’t know if I’d be able to show up and play at Roland Garros,” Verdasco said. “Roberto is a very disciplined professional with solid routines and I think that helps him get into this ‘bubble’ and just detach from his personal issues. His mental fortitude is worthy of admiration.”

Lopez found himself in a similar situation as Bautista Agut a year ago.

“I do not know how I would have reacted,” Lopez said. “When I went through something similar when Casper [Fernandez] passed away, I was playing at Wimbledon. (Lopez’s father taught tennis to Fernandez in Spain.) I found out that he was very sick, that he had days to live, just as I was about to play a doubles match. I was lucky to be able to say goodbye to him, even though he was sedated. Every case is different and I wasn’t related by blood to Casper, but for me it was very hard. Right about now, he’d be sending me a text asking what I’m up to or just something about whatever. But now he’s gone.”

Bautista Agut is doing his best to stay focused on the task at hand, and is well aware he’ll need to perform at his best against Djokovic, whom he trails 1-6 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series.

“Everything that has happened is taking its toll on me,” Bautista Agut said. “In the end, everything is linked to our profession. What we eat, how much we rest, the family issues … all that is linked to the life of the tennis player and when there are problems off the court, you have to put in that much more effort to achieve good results on the court.

“My match [against Djokovic] is obviously a difficult one, even more so considering the circumstances. All I can do is leave it all on the court.”

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GB quads to play off for World Team Cup bronze

  • Posted: May 31, 2018

The Great Britain quad team will play off for bronze at the wheelchair tennis World Team Cup after losing to Australia in the semi-finals.

Ant Cotterill, the world number 12, was beaten 6-2 6-1 by third-ranked Heath Davidson in the opening singles match.

World number two Andy Lapthorne pushed Dylan Alcott, ranked two places lower, all the way in the opening set but lost 7-6 (7-4) 6-2.

“I learnt a harsh lesson – you have to take your chances,” tweeted Lapthorne.

The team will face the United States in the medal match on Saturday at the tournament in Apeldoorn, Netherlands.

The men’s and women’s teams will both face semi-final ties on Friday – the men against Belgium, while the women will take on defending champions China.

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Top seed Nadal drops just four games to cruise through

  • Posted: May 31, 2018
French Open 2018
Venue: Roland Garros, Paris Dates: 27 May-10 June
Coverage: Daily live radio and text commentaries on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra, the BBC Sport website and app.

World number one Rafael Nadal eased into the French Open third round with a straight-set win over Guido Pella.

Ten-time champion Nadal saw off the Argentine 6-2 6-1 6-1 in two hours and three minutes at Roland Garros.

The 31-year-old Spaniard will now face France’s Richard Gasquet, who beat Tunisia’s Malek Jaziri 6-2 3-6 6-3 6-0.

“We have known each since 11 or 12 years old and grown up together, so it is going to be a great pleasure to play against him,” said Nadal.

“I played such a good match today, I am very happy with the way I played.”

  • Live scores, schedule and results
  • Halep & Sharapova into third round
  • Edmund beats Fucsovics in four sets
  • Briton Norrie loses to 15th seed Pouille

Croatian third seed Marin Cilic overcame Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz 6-2 6-2 6-7 (3-7) 7-5 to set up a meeting with American Steve Johnson.

Fifth seed Juan Martin del Potro also came through unscathed, powering to a 6-4 6-3 6-2 victory over 36-year-old home hopeful Julien Benneteau, who was playing in his last French Open.

“When I was 10 years old I sat in this stadium and had a dream to play right here, and I will never forget all of you for fulfilling my dream,” said the Frenchman.

Argentine Del Potro added: “It wasn’t easy for me to play a guy like Julien in Paris. He has made a fantastic career and is still playing great tennis.”

Meanwhile, Canadian teenager Denis Shapovalov saw his French Open debut cut short after a 7-5 6-7 (4-7) 7-5 6-4 defeat by Germany’s Maximilian Marterer.

“Not every week is going to be the same,” said the 19-year-old 24th seed. “You run into guys that are playing well, playing hot.”

South African sixth seed Kevin Anderson beat Uruguay’s Pablo Cuevas 6-3 3-6 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 and will play Germany’s Mischa Zverev next, while Austria’s seventh seed Dominic Thiem saw off Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-2 2-6 6-4 6-4 to progress.

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Nadal Brings Tsunami To Advance At Roland Garros

  • Posted: May 31, 2018

Nadal Brings Tsunami To Advance At Roland Garros

Spaniard next faces home favourite Gasquet

Once it starts, it comes quickly, that Rafael Nadal tsunami of momentum and forehands. For 57 minutes, Argentine Guido Pella fought off the 10-time champion’s efforts to race through the opening set at Roland Garros. Pella saved six break points in the opener.

But Nadal, on his fifth set point, broke through and the games flowed from there as the Spaniard coasted to a 6-2, 6-1, 6-1 win on Court Suzanne-Lenglen.

The Spaniard had been 26-3 against left-handers at Grand Slams, a small but possible opening for the lefty Pella, considering Nadal’s current Roland Garros record of 81-2. But Nadal had no trouble striking his forehand often against the Argentine, and he’s again through to the Round of 32 in Paris, where the No. 1 player in the ATP Rankings will meet a familiar foe in France’s Richard Gasquet.

The Frenchman denied Malek Jaziri’s attempt at Tunisian history 6-2, 3-6, 6-3, 6-0. The 2016 quarter-finalist won almost 60 per cent of his second-serve points (16/28) to make the third round for the eighth consecutive year. Jaziri was attempting to become the first Tunisian man to reach the Roland Garros third round in 55 years.

You May Also Like: Cilic Raises His Game At Roland Garros

It was a long match with some strong moments, weak moments. I knew I had to pick up at the beginning of the third set. I knew that it was important at that moment. Otherwise it would have been very difficult,” Gasquet said.

There were a lot of difficult rallies… I was glad to get 6-3, 6-0, because at the end of the second set I wasn’t sure I was going to win like that.”

Nadal and Gasquet were rivals during junior tennis. On the tour-level, they’ve played 15 times, but Nadal has won all of them in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, including a third-round match at Roland Garros in 2005.

Watch: Gasquet Reflects On Playing Nadal As A Junior

They last played at the 2017 Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati (6-3, 6-4). Gasquet last won a set against Nadal at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event in Canada, 10 years and 11 FedEx ATP Head2Head matchups ago.

I’ll try to do my best, because unless there is a disaster, as you said, he has a good chance of winning… He’s extraordinary. We all know he is,” Gasquet said. “I’m just going to get on the court and try to play a good match… I want to go there and to do my best. It’s a great draw for me. It will be on the centre court. There will be [a lot of] people. I intend to have a good match.”

Did You Know?
Gasquet won his 500th tour-level match last month at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, the same tournament where Gasquet won his first tour-level contest in 2002. Read Tribute

Visit Official Roland-Garros Website

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French Open: Simona Halep & Maria Sharapova into round three

  • Posted: May 31, 2018
French Open 2018
Venue: Roland Garros, Paris Dates: 27 May-10 June
Coverage: Daily live radio and text commentaries on BBC Radio 5 live, the BBC Sport website and app.

Top seed Simona Halep and two-time champion Maria Sharapova both progressed to the third round of the French Open.

Halep, twice a runner-up in Paris, saw off American Taylor Townsend 6-3 6-1, with the Romanian now facing Germany’s Andrea Petkovic in the next round.

Russian Sharapova, the 28th seed, beat Croatia’s Donna Vekic 7-5 6-4.

She will play Czech sixth seed Karolina Pliskova next, with Serena Williams potentially awaiting in last 16.

American three-time winner Williams faces Australia’s Ashleigh Barty in the second round later on Thursday.

  • Live scores, schedule and results
  • Top seed Nadal cruises through
  • Watson beaten by 16th seed Mertens
  • Edmund beats Fucsovics in four sets
  • Briton Norrie loses to 15th seed Pouille

Sharapova is playing at Roland Garros for the first time since 2015, having been refused a wildcard entry in 2017 after serving a doping ban the previous year.

Serving for the first set at 5-3, the 31-year-old allowed world number 52 Vekic to break back before eventually getting over the line 7-5.

The former world number one dropped serve early in the second, and failed again to serve out the match at 5-3 before taking it 6-4.

Another former French Open champion, Garbine Muguruza, enjoyed a more comfortable route into round three.

The Spaniard was rarely troubled in a 6-4 6-3 victory over French wildcard Fiona Ferro that sets up a meeting with Australia’s Sam Stosur.

“It’s always tricky when you face a young, talented French player,” said Muguruza. “It probably wasn’t the best tennis out there but I’m happy that I managed to fight and to win.”

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Briton Norrie loses out to 15th seed Pouille

  • Posted: May 31, 2018
French Open 2018
Venue: Roland Garros, Paris Dates: 27 May-10 June
Coverage: Daily live radio and text commentaries on BBC Radio 5 live, the BBC Sport website and app.

British number three Cameron Norrie lost 6-2 6-4 5-7 7-6 (7-3) to 15th seed Lucas Pouille when their French Open second-round match resumed on Thursday.

Pouille, the French number one, led by two sets to one when bad light stopped play on Wednesday night.

In a tense fourth set, the Frenchman broke for 6-5 but he was unable to serve out for the match.

Norrie forced a tie-break but the world number 85 was unable to take it to a decider.

  • Live scores, schedule and results

Norrie has enjoyed a sharp rise since making his debut on the ATP Tour last year, climbing into the top 100 for the first time last week.

It helped him automatically qualify for a Grand Slam for the first time in his career on his debut appearance at Roland Garros.

The New Zealand-raised left-hander had dropped the opening two sets on Wednesday and also appeared to be struggling with illness.

But he gave himself a chance by taking the third set and ensuring the match went to a second day.

American-college educated Norrie began day two confidently and won his opening three service games before saving a couple of break points in the seventh game.

The Briton got a set point at 5-4 but Pouille saved it in style with an ace.

That looked to have turned the match the Frenchman’s way and he broke Norrie to 15 to leave him serving for the match.

But Norrie showed plenty of determination, taking the third of three break-point chances to force the tie-break.

Pouille held the advantage in the tie-break and luck was not on Norrie’s side when at 5-3 down he volleyed a winner but was judged to have touched the net.

That gave the Frenchman three set points but he only needed one to reach round three.

Afterwards, Norrie paid tribute to his grandmother whose funeral took place in Glasgow on Wednesday.

“My Dad had to go to the funeral on Tuesday night,” he told BBC Sport.

“I have fought the last two weeks so hard for her and I think she would be proud, and she played a lot of tennis herself.

“It was tough and I think my Dad just got back to Paris today and just missed the end of my match. So it was a tough one.”

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