Irina-Camelia Begu survives an epic: The Romanian, seeded No.25 in Paris, held off a barrage of power from CoCo Vandeweghe to win 6-7(4), 7-6(4), 10-8 in 3 hours and 38 minutes, the longest WTA match of the season so far. Vandeweghe served for the match at 5-4 in the third but Begu broke back and eventually worked her way to the win. It will be a tough loss for the American to swallow. Begu plays Annika Beck for a spot in the Round of 16.
Read more about Begu’s journey back from injury and how professional tennis runs in her family here.
Victoria Azarenka’s frustrating clay season: The World No.5 had all the momentum in the world heading into the clay season, but her mind and body just would not cooperate. On Tuesday, Azarenka retired down 4-0 in the final set to Italy’s Karin Knapp, a player who is well familiar with physical fragility herself.
After losing just one match on hard courts in the first three months of the season and winning three titles – including the first two Premier Mandatory events of the year at Indian Wells and Miami – Azarenka’s clay season was one to forget. She won just two tour matches on red clay and failed to notch a win over anyone ranked inside the Top 40. The back injury she sustained at the Mutua Madrid Open seemed to have healed up in Paris, but against Knapp she appeared to suffer a right knee injury that eventually led to her retirement.
Azarenka did not speak to reporters after the match.
Francesca Schiavone clarifies retirement rumors: No, Francesca ain’t done yet. Schiavone received a hero’s ovation after losing in straight sets to Kristina Mladenovic in the first round, but clarified after the match that, despite an announcement by Roland Garros, she had not retired.
“You can stand up all of you & go back to work b/c I didn’t say that. I will announce when I want to stop.” pic.twitter.com/G0ppQpTxC9
— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) May 24, 2016
Roland Garros, always a pleasure. See you all in @Wimbledon.
— Francesca Schiavone (@Schiavone_Fra) May 24, 2016
Timea Bacsinszky’s tasty tales: What is it like to cover the first week of a Slam? It involves a lot of stairs, battery checks on your recorders, and cold sandwiches, often eaten at your desk as you monitor results. So this was a particularly painful read:
Reads @TimeaOfficial’s press conference, looks at sad desk sandwich, cries. #RG16 pic.twitter.com/blw6sZxIvh
— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) May 24, 2016
Kristina Mladenovic mixes it up: Mladenovic confirmed to reporters that she will play mixed doubles with Pierre Hugues Herbert at the Olympics.
Garbiñe Muguruza and Petra Kvitova bouce back: After getting pushed to three sets in the first round against Anna Karolina Schmiedlova, the No.4 seed rolled to a 6-2, 6-0 win over French wildcard Myrtille Georges. Kvitova was two points away from a first round exit as well against Danka Kovinic. She rolled past Hsieh Su-Wei 6-4, 6-1 on Wednesday to move through to the third round.
Shhhhh…Agnieszka Radwanska looking comfortable: The No.2 seed has not dropped a set through two rounds, with wins over Bojana Jovanovski and a tough Caroline Garcia. “I’m healthy, in one piece, and I’m just ready for the next one,” Radwanska said afterwards.
Read why I tentatively picked Radwanska as a darkhorse for a deep run. Pressure and expectation free, this might be the year she puts it together on clay. Or not. We’ll see.
Can Samantha Stosur snap her Safarova streak?: Stosur is into the third round and will face a familiar foe in last year’s Roland Garros finalist Lucie Safarova. The Czech is 11-3 against Stosur. It’s Stosur’s worst head-to-head record behind her 15-2 mark against Maria Sharapova.
Naomi Osaka streaks through a Slam once again: The 18-year-old is into the third round of her Roland Garros debut, this time beating an in-form Mirjana Lucic-Baroni 6-3, 6-3 to set up a big test against No.6 seed Simona Halep.
Here’s a fun exchange between Osaka and a reporter about her desire to play Serena Williams.
Q. Speaking of Serena, you always wanted to play her. In Australia you looked a little bit disappointed to find out that you don’t have an opportunity to play against Serena until like a semifinals or something. I was wondering this year when the draw came out, did you watch where Serena is and did you find that opportunity to play against Serena?
NAOMI OSAKA: Well, she’s all the way on the other side of the draw. Like she’s always at the very top. Then I saw my name wasn’t there, and I was like, ah. I got over it kind of quickly. Was that it?
Q. What was your reaction when you found that you don’t have an opportunity to play her until the final?
NAOMI OSAKA: Disappointment? But then I’m like, okay, so maybe I have a chance to win my rounds then.
Elena Vesnina and Ekaterina Makarova are out…of singles: The doubles partners took surprising second round losses on Wednesday, with Vesnina bowing out to Shelby Rogers and No.27 seed Makarova losing to Yanina Wickmayer in three sets.
The pressure of playing at home: Caroline Garcia will walk away from the clay season with a big win on home soil. It just won’t be here in Paris. The Strasbourg champion couldn’t find her best when it mattered against the crafty Radwanska, but the atmosphere and the effort she put in was very positive.
“I enjoyed the court,” Garcia said. “I enjoyed Lenglen. I enjoyed the public. I’m disappointed. I can play better. But it was a wonderful moment. It was very emotional. The public supporting me helped me coming back in the match when I thought it was over.
“I think they believed more in me than I believed in myself.”
Day 5 Matches to Watch: Timea Bacsinszky vs. Eugenie Bouchard, Venus Williams vs. Louisa Chirico, Madison Keys vs. Mariana Duque-Mariño, Camila Giorgi vs. Kiki Bertens, Andrea Petkovic vs. Yulia Putintseva, Kristina Mladenovic vs. Timea Babos.
Olympic teams shape up: A quick look at the Olympic race:
– Germany: With Annika Beck’s run to the third round, the top four Germans on the Monday after the French Open will be Angelique Kerber, Andrea Petkovic, Laura Siegemund, and Beck. That’s not to say that’s the confirmed team: all players are still subject to Federation and Fed Cup requirements.
– Russia: The Vesnina and Makarova’s losses mean the Russian Olympic team is nearly set, with Svetlana Kuznetsova, Maria Sharapova, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, and Daria Kasatkina the top four singles players. If Sharapova is unable to play in Rio, that fourth spot will go to Makarova.
– United States: CoCo Vandeweghe needed to make the final to overtake Sloane Stephens or Madison Keys for the fourth Olympic spot. While Louisa Chirico is still mathematically in the hunt, it’s looking like the US will send Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Madison Keys, and Sloane Stephens in singles.
– Three bubble players to watch: Even one more win could mean the difference between Rio and summer vacation for Alizé Cornet, Zhang Shuai, and Wang Qiang.
Photos courtesy of Getty Images.