Nadal motors into last-eight round as women’s champion exits

Published June 5, 2017
PARIS: Garbine Muguruza of Spain hits a return during her 
fourth-round match against Kristina Mladenovic of France at Roland Garros on Sunday.—Reuters
PARIS: Garbine Muguruza of Spain hits a return during her fourth-round match against Kristina Mladenovic of France at Roland Garros on Sunday.—Reuters

PARIS: Nine-time champion Rafael Nadal surged into the French Open quarter-finals for a record-equalling 11th time on Sunday, while reigning women’s title-holder Garbine Muguruza crashed out in the last 16.

Nadal continued his ruthless form at Roland Garros by dispatching Spanish 17th seed Roberto Bautista Agut 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 to match Roger Federer’s mark of last-eight appearances in Paris.

The 14-time major winner is yet to drop a set, conceding just six games in the last two rounds as he strives to become the first man to win 10 titles at a single Grand Slam.

“I’m happy because Roberto is a very good player. It’s very important for me to be in the quarter-finals one more time,” said Nadal, who turned 31 on Saturday. “Probably I didn’t play as well as I did the other day, but I still played well.”

The fourth seed will meet compatriot Pablo Carreno Busta, through to his first Slam quarter-final, for spot in the last four after the latter stunned Canada’s Milos Raonic.

Carreno Busta, seeded 20th, needed seven match points to clinch a thrilling 4-6, 7-6 (7-2), 6-7 (6-8), 6-4, 8-6 win over the fifth-seeded Raonic in four hours and 17 minutes.

Defending champion Novak Djokovic will also become an 11-time quarter-finalist in Paris if he defeats Spain’s Albert Ramos-Vinolas later Sunday.

Japan’s Kei Nishikori fought off a fierce five-set challenge from rising South Korean talent Hyeon Chung to clinch a place in the last 16.

Eighth seed Nishikori led two sets to one but trailed by a double break at 3-0 down in the fourth set when rain halted play on Saturday.

Chung forced the contest into a deciding set as play resumed on Sunday, but the world No 67 double faulted on match point to gift Nishikori a 7-5, 6-4, 6-7 (4-7), 0-6, 6-4 victory.

“I think the rain helps me a lot, because I was really down in the fourth set and mentally I wasn’t ready,” admitted Nishikori. “I knew I had to change something to beat him today, so I think I made some adjustments to make little better than yesterday.”

It was the first third-round meeting between two Asian players at Roland Garros, with 2014 US Open finalist Nishikori going on to play Fernando Verdasco for a place in the quarter-finals.

Karen Khachanov will play Andy Murray in the fourth round after the giant Russian beat American 21st seed John Isner 7-6 (7-1), 6-3, 6-7 (5-7), 7-6 (7-3).

Kristina Mladenovic ensured France will have women in the quarter-finals for the first time since 1994 after dumping out fourth seed Muguruza 6-1, 3-6, 6-3.

The French 13th seed is through to just her second Slam quarter-final — after the 2015 US Open — and will face Venus Williams or Switzerland’s Timea Bacsinszky for a spot in the last four.

Danish 11th seed Caroline Wozniacki knocked off 2009 champion Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-1, 4-6, 6-2 to reach the last eight for just the second time.

Wozniacki, who made her only other quarter-final appearance at Roland Garros in 2010, will meet Latvian teenager Jelena Ostapenko next.

“Svetlana’s a great player, especially on clay so I knew it wouldn’t be easy,” said Wozniacki, a two-time US Open runner-up.

Second seed Karolina Pliskova advanced to round four with a 7-5, 6-1 victory over Germany’s Carina Witthoeft.

Pliskova, who had won just twice in five previous French Open appearances before this year, will face Paraguay’s Veronica Cepede Royg for a quarter-final spot.

World No 290 and qualifier Petra Martic reached the last 16 with a 6-1, 6-1 win over Latvian 17th seed Anastasija Sevastova.

Croatia’s Martic, a former top 50 player whose ranking slumped after a back injury sidelined her for 10 months, will face Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina.

“When I got injured, my only hope was that I would get a second chance so I can play some of my best tennis again,” said Martic. “I still can’t believe that I’m sitting here.” Fifth seed Svitolina downed Magda Linette of Poland 6-4, 7-5.

Sunday’s results (prefix number denotes seeding):

Men’s singles:

Fourth round:20-Pablo Carreno (Spain) bt 5-Milos Raonic (Canada) 4-6, 7-6 (7-2), 6-7 (6-8), 6-4, 8-6; 4-Rafa Nadal (Spain) bt 17-Roberto Bautista (Spain) 6-1, 6-2, 6-2.

Third round: 15-Gael Monfils (France) bt 24-Richard Gasquet (France) 7-6 (7-5), 5-7, 4-3 — Gasquet retired; Karen Khachanov (Russia) bt 21-John Isner (US) 7-6 (7-1), 6-3, 6-7 (5-7), 7-6 (7-3); 8-Kei Nishikori (Japan) bt Chung Hyeon (South Korea) 7-5, 6-4, 6-7 (4-7), 0-6, 6-4.

Women’s singles:

Fourth round: 13-Kristina Mladenovic (France) bt 4-Garbine Muguruza Blanco (Spain) 6-1, 3-6, 6-3; Jelena Ostapenko (Latvia) bt 23-Samantha Stosur (Australia) 2-6, 6-2, 6-4; 11-Caroline Wozniacki (Denmark) bt 8-Svetlana Kuznetsova (Russia) 6-1, 4-6, 6-2.

Third round: Veronica Cepede Royg (Paraguay) bt Mariana Duque (Colombia) 3-6, 7-6 (7-2), 6-3; 5-Elina Svitolina (Ukraine) bt Magda Linette (Poland) 6-4, 7-5; 2-Karolina Pliskova (Czech Republic) bt Carina Witthoeft (Germany) 7-5, 6-1; Petra Martic (Croatia) bt 17-Anastasija Sevastova (Latvia) 6-1, 6-1.

Published in Dawn, June 5th, 2017

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