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French Open: Serena survives scare; Medvedev overcomes demons

Last updated on: June 03, 2021 08:15 IST
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Images from Day 4 of the 2021 French Open in Paris on Wednesday.

Serena Williams

IMAGE: Serena Williams reacts during her second round match against Mihaela Buzarnescu of Romania during Day 4 of the 2021 French Open at Roland Garros in Paris, on Wednesday. Photograph: Julian Finney/Getty Images

Former world number one Serena Williams, chasing a record-tying 24th Grand Slam singles title, overcame a second-set blip to reach the French Open third round with a 6-3, 5-7, 6-1 win against Romania's Mihaela Buzarnescu on Wednesday.

 

Three-time Roland Garros champion Williams, who has been stuck on 23 major titles since 2017, one behind Margaret Court's all-time record, went through the gears in the opening set before letting her guard down.

The 39-year-old, who is seeded seventh in Paris but has not been past the fourth round here since reaching the final in 2016, fell 4-2 behind in the second set as Buzarnescu broke for the first time.

But the American was back to her dominant self as she stole her opponent's serve in the next game and set up two break points in the 11th game.

Buzarnescu kept her composure to stave them off and level for 5-5 before sealing the second set on Williams's serve.

Serena Williams

IMAGE: Since winning the 2017 Australian Open, Serena Williams has fallen in four Grand Slam finals and earlier this year lost in the semi-finals at the Australian Open. Photograph: Julian Finney/Getty Images

Williams was 4-0 up after breaking twice in the decider but the scoreline did not reflect the fight the Romanian put up to stay in the contest.

Williams's experience, however, prevailed in the key moments as she set up a meeting with fellow American Danielle Collins.

Williams has come agonisingly close to matching Court's record since winning the 2017 Australian Open.

She has fallen in four Grand Slam finals and earlier this year lost in the semi-finals at the Australian Open.

Following that she underwent oral surgery and played only three Tour-level matches heading into the French Open, winning one.

Medvedev overcomes slow start to reach third round

Daniil Medvedev

IMAGE: Daniil Medvedev reacts during his match against Tommy Paul on day four of the French Open. Photograph: Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

World number two Daniil Medvedev overcame a slow start to beat unseeded American Tommy Paul 3-6, 6-1, 6-4, 6-3 and reach the third round.

After dropping the opening set, Medvedev took command in the second where he consolidated an early break to race ahead 3-0 and then after Paul held serve the Russian won 12 of the final 14 points of the set to pull even.

Medvedev, who had been knocked out in the first round of the tournament over the four previous years, broke twice in the third set to pull ahead and then served out in style with a hold to love in a 53-second game.

Paul twice broke Medvedev's serve in the fourth set and fended off a match point to keep the affair alive with a nimble net game but the Russian kept his poise to end the bout with a powerful backhand shot.


Tsitsipas strolls into third round

Stefanos Tsitsipas

IMAGE: Stefanos Tsitsipas, who reached the semi-finals in 2020, is considered one of the main contenders to challenge Rafael Nadal for the title at Roland Garros. Photograph: Adam Pretty/Getty Images

Greek fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas strolled past Spaniard Pedro Martinez 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 in a scrappy contest on Wednesday to reach the third round of the French Open.

Tsitsipas, who reached the semi-finals in 2020, is considered one of the main contenders to challenge Rafael Nadal for the title at Roland Garros after the 22-year-old's triumph at the Monte-Carlo Masters and in Lyon in the lead-up to the claycourt Grand Slam.

"I've had good weeks this year, I've had some good results, but, of course, I feel like there's always better," Tsitsipas, who improved his tour-leading wins tally in the season to 34, said in his on-court interview.

"I don't see my performance so far as super excellent and outstanding but I've been consistent."

The 103rd-ranked Martinez gave a good account of himself during parts of the match but did not have enough in his locker to put significant pressure on Tsitsipas in their first meeting.

The 24-year-old had his chances, though, on Tsitsipas's serve but could convert only four of his 15 breakpoint opportunities.

The Greek broke his opponent's serve eight times and hit his 45th winner on matchpoint to set up a third-round meeting with American John Isner, who defeated Serbian Filip Krajinovic 7-6(6) 6-1 7-6(5).

"I felt like I had better days at the French Open, so I would love to see myself play a little bit better next time," Tsitsipas told reporters.

Nishikori scripts second five-set win

Kei Nishikori

IMAGE: Kei Nishikori outlasted Russian 23rd seed Karen Khachanov in a thrilling four-hour battle. Photograph: Julian Finney/Getty Images

Japan's Kei Nishikori survived his second five-set match at this year's French Open on Wednesday, outlasting Russian 23rd seed Karen Khachanov in a thrilling four-hour battle to win 4-6 6-2 2-6 6-4 6-4 and reach the third round.

The 31-year-old, three times a quarter-finalist at Roland Garros, scripted a comeback win against Italian Alessandro Giannessi on Sunday and repeated the feat against Khachanov, improving to 26-7 in matches that go to five sets.

"I just tried to stay calm. Losing the third set was hard," Nishikori said in his on-court interview. "Playing aggressive tennis was the key to win.

"Trust me, I hate playing five sets. I'm not doing this on purpose."

Nishikori wasted three breakpoint opportunities to take the lead in the deciding set and finally managed to break Khachanov's serve to love in the last game, converting his first matchpoint with his 57th winner.

Next up for the Japanese will be Swiss world number 150 Henri Laaksonen, who ousted Spaniard 11th seed Roberto Bautista Agut with a 6-3, 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 victory.

Zverev eases into third round

Alexander Zverev

IMAGE: Alexander Zverev celebrates winning his second round match against Roman Safiullin of Russia during Day 4 of the 2021 French Open, at Roland Garros, in Paris. Photograph: Adam Pretty/Getty Images

German sixth seed Alexander Zverev blew hot and cold with his serve but had enough artillery to take down Russian qualifier Roman Safiullin 7-6(4) 6-3 7-6(1) to reach the third round of the French Open on Wednesday.

The 182nd-ranked Russian went toe-to-toe with Zverev in the baseline battle in the opening set before the German got the crucial break in the 11th game.

Serving for the set, Zverev committed two double-faults to give away the advantage and had another in the tie-breaker but he recovered to take the lead with back-to-back aces.

Alexander Zverev

IMAGE: Alexander Zverev served 15 aces against 10 double faults in the second round match. Photograph: Adam Pretty/Getty Images

Double faults continued to haunt the 24-year-old German in the second set as he smashed his racquet on the court in frustration and suffered a service break but he recovered spectacularly to take the set by winning five games in a row.

Zverev, who served 15 aces against 10 double faults, outplayed Safiullin in the third-set tiebreaker to set up a clash against the winner of the match between Serbians Laslo Djere and Miomir Kecmanovic.

Azarenka sees off teenager Tauson to enter third round

Victoria Azarenka

IMAGE: Victoria Azarenka serves during her second round match against Clara Tauson of Denmark. Photograph: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Victoria Azarenka advanced to the third round of the French Open after overcoming Danish teenager Clara Tauson with a 7-5, 6-4 victory Court Simonne-Mathieu on Wednesday.

The Belarusian 15th seed, a former semi-finalist at Roland Garros, started strong when she broke Tauson in the opening game of the match but the Danish 18-year-old broke back to make it 2-2 in the first set.

However, Azarenka broke again to take a 6-5 lead before serving out the opening set. The pair then traded breaks twice in the second set, with both players making a number of unforced errors.

But the vastly experienced Azarenka, 31, had the crucial break of serve again at 4-4 to take the lead. She then held serve to clinch victory and book a third round match with American 23rd seed Madison Keys.

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