In reality, the news that Rafa Nadal has withdrawn from the French Open eclipses everything else that happened at Roland Garros yesterday. But! Amidst the weeping and the wailing after the King of Clay made his departure, there was some slipping and sliding as the third round got underway. This is our round-up of the action:
The best of the women:
If Rafa hadn’t withdrawn, the big news of the day would have been that Lucie Safarova – last year’s runner-up – crashed out. The Czech star stumbled and fell to Aussie Sam Stosur in a tough, tight 6-3 6-7(0) 7-5 battle. It was Stosur’s fourth win against Safarova in 15 matches.
“It was very close right from the first game – Lucie and I typically play matches like this one,” Stosur said. “For me to get through this one, I’m really, really happy with how I played.”
Another player who survived a tough, tight fight was Simona Halep. The Romanian sixth seed had to claw her way back from a set down to dispatch teen Naomi Osaka 4-6 6-2 6-3.
For any other player, a 6-0 6-7(3) 6-0 defeat would be a strange scoreline. But Petra Kvitova isn’t any other player. And there was something strangely familiar about the way the No.10 seed limped out of the tournament to American Shelby Rogers. It was like the Petra of old days – and present days, for that matter.
Elsewhere, Sloane Stephens got walloped by Tsveta Pironkova; Garbine Muguruza crushed Yanina Wickmayer 6-3 6-0; Svetlana Kuznetsova continued her quiet, confident march through the draw, downing Pavlyuchenkova 6-1 6-4; and Aga Radwanska survied a tough, tight battle against Barbora Strycova, winning 6-2 6-7(6) 6-2.
The men’s action:
It’s taken him a couple of matches to get warmed up, but Andy Murray was a different man on Suzanne-Lenglen yesterday. The Scot swept aside big serving Ivo Karlovic 6-1 6-4 7-6(3) to book his spot in the fourth round.
Stan Wawrinka is another man who has shaken off the early round blues and looks to be hitting his stride as we move towards the second week. The defending champion marched past home favourite Jeremy Chardy 6-4 6-3 7-5, further underlining his title credentials.
Kei Nishikori took a more arduous route past clay court specialist Fernando Verdasco. The No.5 seed needed five sets to down the Spaniard, eventually triumphing 6-3 6-4 3-6 2-6 6-4 on Court 1.
Elsewhere, Richard Gasquet swept aside Nick Kyrgios 6-2 7-6(7) 6-2 as he strode into the fourth round; John Isner needed some big serves and five sets to dispatch Gabashvili; and Viktor Troicki continued his impressive Roland Garros run with a 6-4 6-2 6-2 win over Gilles Simon.
Ones to watch:
If you ignore the Rafa shaped hole in today’s schedule, there’s plenty to look forward to. On Chatrier Serena Williams v Kristina Mladenovic should be fun, so should Ernests Gulbis v Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
Alex Zverev will have to be at his best to overcome Dominic Thiem, while Alize Cornet will fancy her chances against Venus Williams.
And if you’re looking for upsets… well, there will be plenty of Rafa fans walking around looking downbeat. Maybe go and give them a hug.
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