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French Open 2018: Serena Williams to play Maria Sharapova in fourth round

  • Posted: Jun 02, 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

Returning three-time champion Serena Williams set up a highly-anticipated French Open last-16 match against long-time rival Maria Sharapova by beating Germany’s Julia Gorges.

Williams, playing her first Grand Slam since giving birth, won 6-3 6-4 against 11th seed Gorges.

Earlier on Saturday, Russian two-time winner Sharapova beat sixth seed Karolina Pliskova 6-2 6-1.

Williams, 36, and Sharapova, 31, will meet in the fourth round on Monday.

  • Kvitova out as Muguruza goes through
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Williams eased to victory over 29-year-old Gorges, who reached the world’s top 10 for the first time this year, in just one hour and 15 minutes.

‘The numbers don’t lie’

The match between two of the sport’s biggest stars – with 28 Grand Slam titles between them, plus personalities and marketability which have helped them transcend tennis – was one of the most eye-catching permutations when the Roland Garros draw was made last week.

Spiky exchanges between the pair over the years have fuelled the narrative of a rivalry which, on court, has never been much of one.

Williams, a 23-time Slam champion, has won 19 of their 21 previous meetings on tour – both of Sharapova’s wins coming back in 2004.

“Any time you play against Serena you know what you’re up against,” Sharapova said.

“You know the challenge that is upon you. You know, despite the record that I have against her, I always look forward to coming out on the court and competing against the best player.

“I think there is a lot of things in her game that she’s done much better than I have. Numbers don’t lie.”

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

Williams underlines her credentials

Williams, who was playing just her seventh match after returning from having a baby, has so far played down her chances of winning a joint-record 24th Grand Slam singles title.

But against Gorges she underlined her credentials, dominating from the start with a break in the fourth game and she took the first set with an emphatic smash.

She got an early break in the second set too before the German staged a brief fightback to level at 2-2, but another Williams break in the next game put the match out of Gorges’ reach.

“It’s really special to be here again,” said Williams. “This time last year I was pregnant and I was having a tough time and then I had a tough birth so every match at this stage of my return is a bonus.”


BBC tennis correspondent Russell Fuller

This was a seriously impressive performance by Serena Williams.

She served extremely well, but it was the quality of her returns which really caught the eye. And the three-time champion gave Gorges very little in the way of free gifts – making only 12 unforced errors, according to the stats.

Sharapova was also in fantastic form when she demolished Pliskova earlier in the day, so roll on Monday, when the pair will meet for the first time since the 2016 Australian Open quarter-final.

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French Open 2018: Defending champion Rafael Nadal eases into last 16

  • Posted: Jun 02, 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.

Defending champion and world number one Rafael Nadal eased into the last 16 of the French Open with a straight-set win over home hopeful Richard Gasquet.

The Spaniard, chasing an 11th title at Roland Garros, won 6-3 6-2 6-2 in one hour, 58 minutes on Philippe-Chatrier.

Nadal, who turns 32 on Sunday, has now defeated the 31-year-old Frenchman in each of their 16 meetings.

Next up for Nadal is unseeded German Maximilian Marterer, who beat Estonia’s Jurgen Zopp 6-2 6-1 6-4.

  • Britain’s Edmund out to Italian Fognini
  • Sharapova sets up possible Williams tie
  • Live scores, schedule and results

“I played very well, I’m sorry for Richard, he is a good friend and a good person,” Nadal said.

The 16-time Grand Slam champion still had the energy after his match to play few rallies with a ball boy called Leo, who was introduced by former French Open champion Marion Bartoli at the end of Nadal’s on-court interview.

“You have a lot of fans around the world but this ball kid is your biggest fan and it is his dream to play just one ball against you at Roland Garros,” she told the top seed.

Nadal obliged in front of a Chatrier crowd who cheered every ball before the player stepped over the net and hugged the youngster.

Third seed Marin Cilic reached the fourth round of a Grand Slam for the 20th time when he beat American Steve Johnson 6-3 6-2 6-4 in one hour, 34 minutes.

The Croat will face Italy’s Fabio Fognini, who knocked out British number one Kyle Edmund as he took a thrilling five-setter 6-3 4-6 3-6 6-4 6-4.

David Goffin saved four match points to close out his third-round tussle with Gael Monfils in just short of four hours after it was carried over from Friday.

The Belgian eighth seed defeated the Frenchman 6-7 (6-8) 6-3 4-6 7-5 6-3.

Meanwhile, South African sixth seed Kevin Anderson saw off Germany’s Mischa Zverev 6-1 6-7 (3-7) 6-3 7-6 (7-4) to set up a last-16 meeting with Diego Schwartzman.

The Argentine 11th seed won 7-5 6-3 6-3 against Croatia’s Borna Coric.

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French Open 2018: Petra Kvitova out as Simona Halep and Garbine Muguruza advance

  • Posted: Jun 02, 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.

Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova was knocked out of the French Open, as world number one Simona Halep progressed to the last 16 on Saturday.

Czech eighth seed Kvitova, who was among the favourites after winning the Madrid Open, was beaten 7-6 (8-6) 7-6 (7-4) by Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit.

Halep defeated German Andrea Petkovic 7-5 6-0 at Roland Garros in Paris.

Garbine Muguruza, the 2016 French Open champion, saw off Australia’s Sam Stosur 6-0 6-2 in 63 minutes.

Serena Williams plays later on Saturday.

  • GB’s Edmund loses five-set thriller
  • Sharapova sets up possible Williams meeting

Kvitova broke Kontaveit’s serve in the first game but paid the price for an erratic performance as her 13-match winning streak came to an end.

The 28-year-old, who suffered a career-threatening hand injury in a knife attack in December 2016, made 57 unforced errors and served 10 double faults against the 25th seed.

Kontaveit will play US Open champion Sloane Stephens in the last 16 after the American 10th seed beat Italy’s Camila Giorgi 4-6 6-1 8-6 in an enthralling encounter lasting almost two and a half hours.

By contrast, Muguruza sealed her place in the fourth round in just over an hour against former US Open champion Stosur.

She raced through the first set and, although she was broken in the fourth game of the second, she won four games in a row to wrap up the match.

“I had a tough opponent – she’s a Grand Slam champion and a former finalist here,” Muguruza said.

“I knew that if I didn’t play my best tennis it would be very hard.”

Top seed Halep, twice a French Open runner-up, found herself out on Court 18 for the third-round meeting with Petkovic.

The experienced Petkovic kept things close in the first set, but had to have her knee strapped in the second as Halep raced away without dropping a game.

The Romanian will now face Elise Mertens in the fourth round after the Belgian 16th seed knocked out Daria Gavrilova 6-3 6-1.

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Rafa Extends Pair Of Streaks With Third-Round Romp

  • Posted: Jun 02, 2018

Rafa Extends Pair Of Streaks With Third-Round Romp

Rafael Nadal to face Maximilian Marterer in Round of 16

All streaks are meant to be broken. But not for Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros.

The World No. 1 continued his march towards an unprecedented 11th title at the clay-court Grand Slam with a dominant 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 rout of longtime rival Richard Gasquet on Saturday. He advances to the Round of 16 at a major for the 40th time, becoming just the sixth player to acheive the feat in the Open Era.

With the victory, Nadal extended a pair of staggering streaks. He has now won his past 34 completed sets at Roland Garros, breaking his own personal best of 32 in a row from 2007-09. Only Bjorn Borg, who won 41 consecutive sets in 1979-81, has recorded a longer streak in Paris.

In addition, victory for Nadal saw the Spaniard notch his 16th match win against Gasquet at the tour-level. He now owns a ruthless 16-0 stranglehold on their FedEx ATP Head2Head series. It is just the seventh match-up in the Open Era in which a player has recorded as many wins without a defeat.

Most Dominant FedEx ATP Head-To-Heads (Open Era)

Player Opponent H2H Record
Bjorn Borg Vitas Gerulaitis 17-0
Roger Federer Mikhail Youzhny 17-0
Roger Federer David Ferrer 17-0
Ivan Lendl Tim Mayotte 17-0
Rafael Nadal  Richard Gasquet  16-0 
Ivan Lendl Scott Davis 16-0
Ivan Lendl Brad Gilbert  16-0 

It was billed as one of the more highly anticipated third-round encounters on the terre battue. After all, Nadal and Gasquet have a long history that dates back to their junior days. But their pro rivalry has been one-way traffic in favour of the Spaniard, and he continued to flex his muscle on a sunny Saturday afternoon on Court Philippe Chatrier.

Nadal blasted out of the gate, claiming the first nine points and 20 of the first 22 points. Gasquet did well to snatch a break back after falling behind 0-5, rifling a backhand winner down the line. But the Frenchman had no answer for the imposing clay-court game of his opponent, constantly being put on the defensive and moved from corner to corner. There was little he could do to counter Nadal’s penetrating forehand.

The Spaniard would convert a total of six breaks during the one-hour and 58-minute affair, striking 25 winners to Gasquet’s 13. He broke Gasquet to open both the second and third sets and did not look back from there, earning his first sub-two hour win of the tournament.

Not only has Nadal won 16 consecutive matches against Gasquet, the Spaniard has not dropped a set in 10 years. That’s 28 sets won in a row. It also marked their first meeting at Roland Garros since 2005, when Nadal took another third-round match-up 6-4, 6-3, 6-2.

Most Grand Slam Round of 16 Appearances

Player No. of Appearances
Roger Federer 60
Jimmy Connors 43
Novak Djokovic 43
Andre Agassi 42
Ivan Lendl 42
Rafael Nadal  40 

Note: Active streak bold

The top seed, who turns 32 on Sunday, is now 22-1 on clay this year and 82-2 in his career at Roland Garros. He will look to give himself another birthday gift when he faces Maxmilian Marterer in Monday’s fourth round. A 12th quarter-final appearance is at stake for the Manacor native.

Marterer is enjoying his best run at a Grand Slam tournament, streaking into the Round of 16 with a 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 triumph over Jurgen Zopp in one hour and 39 minutes. The World No. 70 is guaranteed to rise to a career-high in the ATP Rankings, as he pushes towards the Top 50.

Marterer is playing the best tennis of his young career, registering his first Top 30 wins during this clay-court season. He upset Diego Schwartzman en route to his first ATP World Tour semi-final in Munich and toppled Denis Shapovalov earlier this week.

The German is one of two players from his country to reach the Round of 16, joining Alexander Zverev. It marks the first time multiple Germans have advanced as far since 2013 (Haas, Kohlschreiber).

Marterer’s victory over Zopp also signaled the end of the road for the eight lucky losers in Paris. The Estonian will hold his head high, however, reaching the third round in his first major main draw since 2014.

Marterer faces a tall order against Nadal, who is a perfect 17-0 against German opponents on clay. He has lost just two sets in total – to Daniel Brands at Roland Garros in 2013 and to Alexander Zverev two weeks ago in Rome.

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French Open 2018: Kyle Edmund beaten by Fabio Fognini in third round

  • Posted: Jun 02, 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 one Kyle Edmund missed out on a first appearance in the French Open last 16 as he lost a five-set thriller to Italy’s Fabio Fognini.

Edmund lost 6-3 4-6 3-6 6-4 6-4 in a fluctuating contest with the 18th seed at Roland Garros.

The 23-year-old Yorkshireman has reached his first Grand Slam semi-final and broken into the world’s top 20 for the first time this year.

But the 16th seed could not break new ground on his preferred surface.

Fognini, 31, will play either Croatian third seed Marin Cilic or American Steve Johnson in the fourth round.

No more Britons in singles

Edmund, who had been the last Briton left in the singles at Roland Garros, considers clay his best surface, the slower court allowing him more time to execute his ferocious forehand.

So it is perhaps surprising he has still not gone as far as the last 16 at Roland Garros. He was close to progressing last year, edged out in a four-hour, five-set epic by South African Kevin Anderson.

Edmund has gained maturity since then, becoming more ruthless as a result of the experience he has picked up going deeper into tournaments over the past 12 months.

Yet he came undone in similar fashion against the enigmatic Fognini.

Only one place separates Edmund and Fognini in the rankings, with the 31-year-old Italian – also a clay-court specialist – edging a fluctuating match on Court Suzanne Lenglen.

Fognini thumped his chest in celebration as the crowd rose to their feet to congratulate both players on their efforts with thundering applause.

More to follow.

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