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Rediff.com  » Sports » French Open PHOTOS: Serena survives; Nadal rolls into third round

French Open PHOTOS: Serena survives; Nadal rolls into third round

Last updated on: June 01, 2018 01:01 IST

Images from Day 5 of the French Open in Paris on Thursday.

Serena bounces back to beat Barty

Serena Williams

IMAGE: Serena Williams celebrates a point. Photograph: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Serena Williams recovered from a set down to beat Australian Ashleigh Barty 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 and book a place in the third round.

The American struck nine aces and 28 clean winners against the 17th seed, but the 36 unforced errors Serena made showed she was still a bit rusty after her long absence from the game.

Nadal rolls into third round

Rafael Nadal

IMAGE: Rafael Nadal plays a forehand. Photograph: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Reigning champion Rafael Nadal bludgeoned his way into the French Open third round with a 6-2, 6-1, 6-1 defeat of outclassed Argentine Guido Pella on Thursday.

With rain showers forecast at Roland Garros the 31-year-old wasted no time on Court Suzanne Lenglen after saving four break points in the first game against the 78th-ranked Pella.

 

Once that early danger had been snuffed out Nadal offered up a masterclass against his fellow left-hander and his forehand was too hot for Pella to handle.

The Spanish world number one has now won his last 27 sets at Roland Garros, having captured a 10th title last year without dropping a set.

Next in the firing line for Nadal is Frenchman Richard Gasquet.

Sharapova books third-round spot

Maria Sharapova

IMAGE: Maria Sharapova in action during her second round match against Croatia's Donna Vekic. Photograph: Christian Hartmann/Reuters

Maria Sharapova huffed and puffed her way into the French Open third round with a 7-5, 6-4 victory over Croatia's Donna Vekic on Thursday.

The former world number one, back at Roland Garros after a two-year absence, was erratic throughout but her iron willpower helped her set up a meeting with sixth seed Karolina Pliskova.

Sharapova, who missed the 2016 tournament because of a doping ban and was denied an invitation last year on her return from suspension, will need to be more consistent if she is to beat the Czech, a semi-finalist here last year.

She failed to finish off a point at the net and Vekic counter-attacked to set up a break point in the first set, which the 28th-seeded Russian saved to move 4-3 up before breaking her opponent's serve.

Vekic, however, broke straight back with a powerful service return.

Sharapova, who is on a quarter-final collision course with 2016 champion Garbine Muguruza of Spain, was waiting for her moment. It came in the 12th game when she forced the Croatian into a lung-busting rally, forcing her opponent to net a forehand and drop the opening set.

To break Vekic's rhythm from the baseline, Sharapova mixed it up with exquisite drop shots, but she made 31 unforced errors and dropped serve four times on Court One.

Vekic, the world number 50, offered stiff resistance at 5-4 in the second set but she bowed out on the fifth match point when Sharapova fired a sizzling forehand winner.

Halep overcomes another wobble

Simona Halep

IMAGE: Simona Halep in action during her second round match. Photograph: Charles Platiau/Reuters

Simona Halep's focus was still not as sharp as she would have liked but that did not prevent the Romanian top seed from blazing past American Taylor Townsend 6-3 6-1 in the French Open second round on Thursday.

A day after losing the first five games of her first-round match, Halep squandered a 5-1 lead as Townsend came from 0-40 down to save three set points with two unreturnable serves and a bludgeoning backhand volley winner.

After bagging that game with an ace, the 72nd-ranked American saved another set point in the next game before breaking the twice French Open finalist, who slapped a backhand into the net.

No doubt frustrated at her inability to close out the set, Halep started grunting every time she struck the ball and that change of tack appeared to produce the desired result as she broke to win the set on her fifth set point when she ended a 16-stroke rally with a sizzling forehand winner.

Townsend had lost all five previous matches against top-10 opponents and once Halep broke to take a 3-1 lead in the second set, that losing streak was doomed to continue.

The American, who has never won a Grand Slam match outside Roland Garros, dropped her serve again to trail 5-1 and Halep swiftly put her out of her misery by needing only one match point to book a third-round meeting with Andrea Petkovic.

Muguruza cruises into third round

Garbine Muguruza

IMAGE: Garbine Muguruza arrived in Paris as one of five women with a chance of claiming the world number one spot. Photograph: Benoit Tessier/Reuters

Garbine Muguruza cruised past French wild card player Fiona Ferro 6-4, 6-3 on Thursday, booking her place in the French Open third round.

The Spaniard sealed the match with a whipped cross-court forehand, though for much of the match the number three seed struggled to find her rhythm and range on the forehand.

Muguruza, who won at Roland Garros in 2016 and heads to Wimbledon this year as defending champion, had not played 21-year-old Ferro before Thursday's encounter.

"She's young and she's talented," Muguruza said in a post-match interview on court Suzanne Lenglen. "These matches are very difficult."

Garbine Muguruza

IMAGE: Garbine Muguruza celebrates winning her second round match. Photograph: Benoit Tessier/Reuters

Muguruza arrived in Paris as one of five women with a chance of claiming the world number one spot.

Her form leading up to the clay-court Grand Slam was mixed, exiting the Madrid Open in the third round and suffering a defeat in her opening match of the Rome Open. But she said she felt good in Paris.

"The French Open is the tournament for me. My body is good and my tennis is following," she said.

Muguruza hit 26 winners and 23 unforced errors, often over-cooking her forehand from the baseline.

She eases into the third round for the fifth consecutive year, and will face the winner of the match between 2010 French Open runner-up Samantha Stosur of Australia and 30-seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia.

Pouille leads French charge into third round

Lucas Pouille

IMAGE: France's Lucas Pouille in action during his second round match. Photograph: Charles Platiau/Reuters

French number one Lucas Pouille put down a spirited comeback by unseeded Briton Cameron Norrie to beat him 6-2, 6-4, 5-7, 7-6(3) on Thursday to lead home hopes going into the third round at Roland Garros.

Pouille, seeded 15th, looked to be cruising after two sets late on Wednesday before Norrie roused himself after calling the doctor to the court and won the third set as the light quickly faded over the French Open.

Any hopes Pouille had of settling the match quickly when play resumed on Thursday were quashed by the British number three, who with the fourth set poised at 3-3 saved two break points with some gutsy rallying.

Pouille looked tight and at 5-4 down on his own serve Norrie had a break point. It was a make-or-break moment for the 22-year-old, but the Frenchman gave him no chance, thundering down his 10th ace of the match to save the set.

The fourth set headed to a tiebreak and Pouille duly wrapped up victory.

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