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PICS: Schmiedlova stuns Azarenka; Nadal, Thiem cruise

Last updated on: October 01, 2020 00:07 IST
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Images from Day 4 of the French Open, at Roland Garros, in Paris.

Anna Karolina Schmiedlova

IMAGE: Slovakia's Anna Karolina Schmiedlova continued her stunning return to form in Paris, having beaten Venus Williams in round one to end a run of 12 consecutive first-round losses in Slams. Photograph: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Victoria Azarenka's unhappy French Open campaign ended on Wednesday as the former world number one was beaten 6-2, 6-2 by Slovakia's Anna Karolina Schmiedlova in the second round.

 

The Belarussian 10th seed, who was criticised for moaning about the cold and damp conditions in her opening round win, capitulated in feeble fashion against her 161st-ranked opponent.

Her defeat continued an exodus of leading seeds with Johanna Konta (9), Madison Keys (12), last year's runner-up Marketa Vondrousova (15) and another former world number one Angelique Kerber (18) having already been beaten while sixth seed Serena Williams withdrew on Wednesday with an Achilles injury.

Azarenka's defeat means that none of the women's semi-finalists at this month's U.S. Open are left in the draw here, although winner Naomi Osaka did not travel to France.

"I felt like nothing really was working, but I still had to find a way to win, and I didn't," Azarenka, runner-up to Osaka at Flushing Meadows, told reporters.

Victoria Azarenka

IMAGE: Belarus's Victoria Azarenka reacts after dropping serve against Anna Karolina Schmiedlova. Photograph: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Former top-30 player Schmiedlova, who is playing with a protected ranking of 93 after knee surgery sidelined her in 2019, has enjoyed a stunning return to form in Paris, having beaten another former number one Venus Williams in round one to end a run of 12 consecutive first-round losses in Slams.

She backed up that win over Williams with an intelligent display against an error-prone Azarenka.

"I always thought that one year it has to come," said Scmiedlova, who now has Argentine qualifier Nadia Podoroska standing between her and the last-16 of a Grand Slam for the first time.

"I think I did everything I could to be back here. I'm very happy that it came, especially this year."

Azarenka, again playing in black leggings, double-faulted to drop serve in the opening game when play finally started on Court Simonne-Mathieu after yet another rain delay.

It did not get much better for the 31-year-old.

Scmiedlova's one real moment of alarm came at 1-1 in the second set when she slipped and landed heavily on her left knee and required treatment.

But she showed no ill-effects as she moved into a 5-2 lead with a couple of breaks of serve. Schmiedlova brought up match point with a forehand winner and sealed victory as Azarenka fired a 37th unforced error.

Bertens leaves court in wheelchair after beating Errani

Kiki Bertens

IMAGE: The Netherlands's Kiki Bertens survived a match-point and cramps against former runner-up Sara Errani before hobbling into the third round. Photograph: Julian Finney/Getty Images

Fifth seed Kiki Bertens narrowly avoided joining the exodus of French Open women's favourites as she survived a match-point and cramps against former runner-up Sara Errani before hobbling into the third round.

Bertens eventually won 7-6(5), 3-6, 9-7 in a claycourt duel lasting more than three hours but she left the court in a wheelchair after struggling physically in the final set.

The 28-year-old said she had suffered a full-body cramp when she got back to her chair after the match and needed 45 minutes of treatment in the locker room.

The 33-year-old Errani, who came through qualifying to start her first Grand Slam for two years after a doping ban, served for the match three times.

She tried every trick in her arsenal including some dinked underarm serves on occasions but Bertens stood firm despite appearing on the verge of collapse on occasions.

Italy's Sara Errani

IMAGE: Italy's Sara Errani, who came through qualifying to start her first Grand Slam for two years after a doping ban, served for the match three times. Photograph: Julian Finney/Getty Images

Errani's serve is one of the weakest on Tour and it failed her at 5-4, 6-5 and 7-6 as she became increasingly vociferous, repeatedly yelling 'vamos' after points.

At 6-5 she brought up a match point with a killer drop shot but Bertens saved it with an angled forehand winner.

Bertens summoned all her energy to eventually hold serve to lead 8-7 in the decider and had triple match point in the next game, only for Errani to save them all.

However, Bertens got another opportunity and this time scrambled over the line to post her only victory over Errani in six attempts. The orange-clad Bertens collapsed onto the clay, shaking with emotion, as 2012 runner-up Errani stalked off without acknowledging her opponent.

Bertens reached the semi-final in 2016 but is short of match play coming into Roland Garros having failed to win a match since the Tour resumed after the COVID-19 shutdown.

She retired injured in Strasbourg last week.

Nadal breezes into third round

Spain's Rafael Nadal celebrates an easy victory over Mackenzie McDonald of the United States.

IMAGE: Spain's Rafael Nadal celebrates an easy victory over Mackenzie McDonald of the United States. Photograph: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Rafael Nadal continued his quest for a record-extending 13th French Open title with a 6-1, 6-0, 6-3 crushing of American Mackenzie McDonald to advance into the third round.

The Spanish second seed, also looking to equal Roger Federer's men's record of 20 singles Grand Slam titles, was never bothered on court Philippe Chatrier.

The claycourt master played deep, using his forehand to devastating effect to set up a meeting with Japanese Kei Nishikori or Italian Stefano Travaglia.

After world number 236 McDonald won the second game, Nadal bagged 11 games in a row to move two sets up and despite some resistance from his opponent early in the third set, he had no trouble improving his win-loss record at Roland Garros to 95-2.

"My objective is to play as well as I can. It was a good match for me today. I'm very happy," said Nadal.

"Then it's another difficult match. We'll see, I hope I'll be at a good level. It's always special for me to play here in Paris, on court Philippe Chatrier."

Thiem saves set points to beat American Sock in straight sets

Austria's Dominic Thiem celebrates victory over Jack Sock of The United States.

IMAGE: Austria's Dominic Thiem celebrates victory over Jack Sock of The United States. Photograph: Julian Finney/Getty Images

World number three Dominic Thiem survived a third set wobble and had to save three set points to beat American Jack Sock in straight sets and book his French Open third round spot.

US Open winner Thiem needed just 25 minutes to break Sock three times and storm through the first set 6-1.

The third-seed, beaten by 19-times Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal in the last two finals in Paris, was brimming with confidence after winning his first major at the US Open earlier this month.

Sock, whose injury-hit 2019 saw him tumble down the rankings to his current 310, tried to mix it up in the second set, hitting several superb drop shots to make it more of a battle.

But he was ultimately helpless against Thiem's baseline power and far superior fitness, losing the second 6-3.

Thiem, however, lost his focus in the third, was broken twice and spilled more than twice as many unforced errors than in the two previous sets combined, allowing Sock two breaks to lead 5-4 and 6-5.

The Austrian, trailing 6-3 in the tiebreak, saved three set points and finished the game seconds later with the first chance.

Top seed Halep beats Begu to extend winning run to 16

Simona Halep

IMAGE: Romania's Simona Halep was a class above compatriot Irina-Camelia Begu. Photograph: Julian Finney/Getty Images

French Open top seed Simona Halep put in a disciplined performance to tame big-hitting compatriot Irina-Camelia Begu 6-3, 6-4 in the second round, extending her winning run to 16 matches.

Halep had won all the previous seven meetings with her 73rd-ranked opponent and jumped to a 3-0 lead on Court Suzanne Lenglen. But Begu got the set back on serve before the 2018 champion broke again in the eighth game before holding serve to win the set.

Begu hit seven more winners than the 2018 champion but also had 15 more unforced errors, and a second break was enough for Halep to secure the second set.

The Wimbledon champion hit her 15th winner on match-point to seal the match and will next meet American teenager Amanda Anisimova, who earlier demolished compatriot Bernarda Pera 6-2, 6-0.

Gauff crashes out

Coco Gauff

IMAGE:  Coco Gauff in action.Photograph: Christian Hartmann/Reuters

American teenager Coco Gauff was knocked out in the second round of the French Open after losing her way following a solid opening set in a 4-6, 6-2, 7-5 defeat to Italian qualifier Martina Trevisan.

On the day 23-time Grand Slam singles champion Serena Williams withdrew with an Achilles injury, Gauff was looking to keep the Stars and Stripes flying but she eventually flagged, serving two double faults in the last game.

The 16-year-old, the youngest player in the main draw who reached the fourth round of the Australian Open this year as well as at Wimbledon in 2019, was in control before allowing her opponent into the contest.

Trevisan then took full advantage to set up a meeting with Greek 20th seed Maria Sakkari.

Another American teenager, Amanda Anisimova, advanced into the third round on Wednesday.

Zverev proves five-set master in Paris as he edges Herbert

Alexander Zverev

IMAGE:  Alexander Zverev celebrates after winning his second round match against France's Pierre-Hugues Herbert.Photograph: Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters

Critics have often questioned Alexander Zverev's mental toughness but when it comes to five-set marathons at the French Open the German's fortitude cannot be doubted.

On Wednesday the 23-year-old sixth seed was nowhere near his best against French doubles specialist Pierre-Hugues Herbert but chiselled out a 2-6, 6-4, 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-4 victory.

He has now won all six of his matches that have gone to a deciding fifth set in Paris and six of his last seven anywhere -- the one loss coming in a heartbreaking defeat to Dominic Thiem in this month's U.S. Open final.

"I'm pretty fit," Zverev said after battling Herbert for a minute under four hours when asked for the key to his success in fifth-set deciders. "You know, sometimes I just feel like I find a way, like today. Today I was not the better player on court.

"I was not doing anything better than he did. But I found a way, which was the most important. But, yeah, I think I lost the most important five-setter in my career so far, which is upsetting but it's okay."

Zverev was two sets ahead in that Flushing Meadows final and also served for his maiden Grand Slam title in the fifth set only to see glory slip through his fingers.

Yet any suggestion he would arrive in Paris a damaged man was put to bed on Wednesday as he showed the kind of fighting qualities for which new coach David Ferrer was renowned.

A flat-looking Zverev wasted two break points in the opening game, then served two double-faults to drop serve.

The skilful Herbert, who has a career Grand Slam in doubles, broke again to take the opener and looked in total control in the second in which he had a point to take a 5-1 lead.

Zverev finally found his aggressive game and hit back to snatch the set before the third set went with serve to set up a tiebreaker. Herbert looked favourite to take it when he had the court gaping at 5-3 but swung a forehand drive volley wide when set points beckoned.

The 78th-ranked Frenchman then lost the next three points.

With a small but vocal crowd urging him on Herbert seized on another Zverev dip in the fourth set to take it into a decider.

Even when Zverev moved 3-0 ahead there was another twist as Herbert produced some dazzling tennis to break back with a searing backhand pass after a dropshot.

Zverev responded to move 5-3 ahead only to falter when serving for the match. But Herbert served a nervy double-fault in the next game and Zverev grabbed his chance.

Zverev will next face Italian Marco Cecchinato who he beat en route to this year's Australian Open semi-final.

Mexican qualifier Zarazua extends 3rd seed Svitolina

Ukraine's Elina Svitolina was handed a bagel by Mexico's Renata Zarazua before winning her second round match at the French Open

IMAGE: Ukraine's Elina Svitolina was handed a bagel by Mexico's Renata Zarazua before winning her second round match at the French Open on Wednesday. Photograph: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Third seed Elina Svitolina recovered from a mid-match meltdown to defeat fearless Mexican qualifier Renata Zarazua 6-3, 0-6, 6-2 and advance to the third round of the French Open on Wednesday.

The 178th-ranked Zarazua, who became the first Mexican woman to win a Grand Slam main draw match in more than 20 years during her first round, came into the contest having never faced a top-20 player in her career.

She understandably made a nervous start under the closed roof of Court Philippe Chatrier as Svitolina quickly jumped into a 4-0 lead.

Zarazua, celebrating her 23rd birthday on Wednesday, soon found her footing, started converting her errors into winners and won three straight games to get back to 4-3.

It was, however, not enough as Svitolina took the opening set with another break of serve.

But if Svitolina hoped for a quick outing, having played in Rome and then winning the title in Strasbourg on Saturday, she was in for a rude shock as Zarazua used the momentum from the first set to hand her a bagel to level the match.

Renata Zarazua

IMAGE: Renata Zarazua, celebrating her 23rd birthday on Wednesday, came into the contest having never faced a top-20 player in her career. Photograph: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

The Ukrainian was almost reduced to tears as her frustration grew with her unforced errors going up to 16 from six in the opening set.

"Well, honestly I'm still questioning myself because I was a bit of a drop. I don't remember much of the second set. Also maybe I was dreaming today," she told reporters.

"It's very tough to say. I was going maybe for too much. In the end when I was playing really good, I was playing aggressive, I was going for my shots. Maybe a few mistakes here and there.

"Then in the end she was quite solid from the baseline, took her chances, didn't miss so much. It was dreamy second set to be fair."

The world number five, however, managed to calm herself down in the decider and after an initial trade of service breaks she shifted gears, breaking Zarazua twice more to seal the victory on her first match-point.

Svitolina has now made the third round at Roland Garros for the sixth straight year and will next meet Russian Ekaterina Alexandrova, who defeated Australian Astra Sharma 6-3, 6-3.

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