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French Open PIX: Serena storms into last 16; Sabalenka ousted

Last updated on: June 05, 2021 09:54 IST
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Images from Day 6 of the 2021 French Open at Roland Garros in Paris on Friday.

Serena Williams

IMAGE: Serena Williams celebrates winning her third round match against Danielle Collins of US at Roland Garros on Friday. Photograph: Adam Pretty/Getty Images

Serena Williams powered confidently into the fourth round of the French Open with a 6-4, 6-4 defeat of fellow American Danielle Collins on Friday as the draw opened up enticingly.

 

The 39-year-old seventh seed produced a calm and composed display against a dangerous opponent and is now the highest-ranked player left in the bottom half.

Williams, seeking a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam singles title, but first since 2017, will play Kazakhstan's 21st seed Elena Rybakina for a place in the quarter-finals.

A hard-hitting contest featured 40 winners and the opening games included a barrage from both players with Collins clearly deciding her best policy was to fight fire with fire on Court Philippe Chatrier.

Collins saved three break points at 1-1 from 0-40 but found herself in trouble again at 3-3 and this time Williams angled away a volley after being dragged in by a dropshot.

Again Collins showed guts to save a set point at 3-5 and Williams then wobbled serving at 5-4 with consecutive double faults before recovering to seal the opener with an ace.

When Williams broke at the start of the second set it looked as though she might race away with the contest but 50th-ranked Collins found another gear to reel off four games in a row as the errors began creeping into the Williams's game.

Trailing 1-4 Williams responded by raising the decibel level, scolding herself even after winning points, and suddenly she began firing on all cylinders again.

The 27-year-old Collins began to look ragged and dropped serve to love at 4-4 before Williams claimed victory to reach the last 16 in Paris for the 13th time.

Steely Tsitsipas keeps cool to beat Isner in four sets

Stefnos Tsitsipas

IMAGE: Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas in action during his third round match against John Isner. Photograph: Sarah Meyssonnier/Reuters

Fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas was handed his first real test at this year's French Open before he subdued big-serving American John Isner 5-7, 6-3, 7-6(3), 6-1 to move into the fourth round.

The 22-year-old, who won two titles on clay in the run-up to Roland Garros, had to endure a torrid serving barrage in the opening set but eventually found his stride to set up a fourth round clash with Spanish 12th seed Pablo Carreno Busta.

"John is a big guy and I can learn a lot playing against him," Tsitsipas said. "His serve was a big obstacle. But things started going my way in the second set. My head cleaned up a bit."

The Greek had to work hard to hold his serve in the first set as his opponent comfortably held his own and earned his first break to go 6-5 up and bag it with his seventh ace.

Tsitsipas had a chance to break early in the second set at 2-1 and 40-0 up on Isner's serve but he squandered all three of his opportunities.

Isner had unsettled his opponent with a mix of drop shots, approach shots and clever volleys but he failed to keep up that momentum when he missed out on converting a rare break point at 3-3.

Tsitsipas then fired himself up with loud screams that bounced off the empty stands on Court Philippe Chatrier.

The fifth seed earned his first break when Isner sunk a volley and Tsitsipas won the set a little later.

"The match was one pattern and it was difficult to adjust. A bit of anger, a bit of frustration and I let it all out and this woke me up, helped me to handle the future situations a bit better," said Tsitsipas.

Both players refused to buckle in the third set and held serve to take it to tiebreak where Tsitsipas kept his composure, hit two superb backhands to earn a mini-break and nick the set when an Isner forehand sailed long.

Another backhand down the line left Isner frozen on the baseline and sent his opponent 2-0 up in the fourth.

Tsitsipas never looked back, winning the mental battle against his opponent and racing to a 6-1 victory in the fourth to move into the next round.


Medvedev cuts Opelka down to size to reach fourth round

Daniil Medvedev

IMAGE: Russian Daniil Medvedev had not won a match at French Open in four previous appearances before this year. Photograph: Adam Pretty/Getty Images

Russian second seed Daniil Medvedev put in a commanding performance against towering 32nd seed Reilly Opelka, beating the American 6-4 6-2 6-4 to storm into the fourth round of the French Open on Friday.

Medvedev, who had not won a match at the claycourt Grand Slam in four previous appearances before this year, broke the 2.11 metre tall American's booming serve two times in the opening set as Opelka committed an array of unforced errors.

The 25-year-old Russian continued his dominance in the second set as Opelka failed to rein in his errors and got broken twice more.

Medvedev then sealed the match with an early break in the third set and will next meet either American Marcos Giron or 22nd seed Cristian Garin.

Pavlyuchenkova knocks out Sabalenka

IMAGE: 31st seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova serves during her third round match against Aryna Sabalenka. Photograph: Julian Finney/Getty Images

Third seed Aryna Sabalenka crashed out of the French Open with a 4-6, 6-2, 0-6 third-round defeat to Russian 31st seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova on Friday, leaving the women's draw without its top three seeds at the claycourt Grand Slam.

After the exits of Ash Barty and Naomi Osaka, the Belarusian was the highest seed remaining this week in Paris but she failed to keep a leash on her unforced errors to lose to the experienced 29-year-old Russian.

Sabalenka got off to a rollicking start for a 3-0 lead but her unforced errors abruptly mounted and Pavlyuchenkova won six of the next seven games to bag the set.

The 23-year-old hammered a flurry of winners to take four games in a row to win the second set and level the match before Pavlyuchenkova went off the court for medical attention, returning with her left thigh heavily strapped.

The injury seemed to have made no difference to Pavlyuchenkova's game as she handed a bagel to her opponent in the decider to set up a meeting against either Victoria Azarenka of Belarus or American Madison Keys.

Azarenka in fourth round for first time in eight years

Victoria Azarenka

IMAGE: 31st seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova serves during her third round match against Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus at Roland Garros on Friday. Photograph: Julian Finney/Getty Images

Former world number one Victoria Azarenka reached the fourth round of the French Open for the first time since 2013 with a 6-2, 6-2 victory against American Madison Keys on Friday.

The Belarusian, who reached a career-best semi-final at Roland Garros eight years ago, was a doubt for the claycourt Grand Slam after withdrawing from the Madrid Open last month with back pain, but she has been solid so far.

"Right from the beginning I knew there would be a lot of intensity, heavy balls. I tried to be solid and put pressure on her so she cannot dictate the points," the 15th seed said in a courtside interview.

Azarenka broke for 3-2 on her third opportunity as Keys hit a backhand long and a passing shot winner earned her another break before she bagged the opening set on serve.

She stole her opponent's serve twice again in the second set, keeping Keys on the back foot throughout.

With the top three seeds out after Ash Barty retired injured, Naomi Osaka withdrew and Aryna Sabalenka lost on Friday, the women's draw is now wide open.

Azarenka next faces Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova who sent packing third seed Sabalenka of Belarus earlier.

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Source: REUTERS
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