Friday, May 28, 2010

Roland Garros Results: Fed, Rafa, Serena and Venus Win in Straights; Henin and Sharapova to Meet

Ticket holders for Friday at Roland Garros got much more than they bargained for. With rain delays pushing matches back to Day 6, almost every top player was on court today, and the countless 3 and 5 set thrillers provided the drama that rounded out a perfect day of tennis.

On the women's side Serena Williams gave her best clay court performance of the year, crushing Julia Georges 6-1, 6-1 for a spot in the 3rd round, where she'll meet Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. Aleksandra Wozniak gave a brilliant effort in almost defeating en emotional Elena Dementieva, but the Russian's experience proved pivotal in her advancing to the 4th round, 6-7 (2). 6-3, 6-4. Sam Stosur also made an impressive recovery from a set down to Rossana de los Rios to eventually prevail 4-6, 6-1, 6-0. Nadia Petrova and Aravane Rezai's match was suspended late while the two were deadlocked in a suspenseful 3rd set, 7-7. Rezai won the opener in a tiebreak while Petrova took the second 6-4. Caroliner Wozniacki, Flavia Pennetta and Yanina Wickmayer all advanced as well.
On the men's side Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer continued to cruise, with the Spaniard reaching the 3rd round and the Swiss reaching the 4th. Federer will play close friend and countryman Stanislas Wawrinka, while Nadal and Lleyton Hewitt, a 5 set winner, are set to face off tomorrow. Robin Soderling has been the most impressive player so far at this year's French open but on Friday he showed his first sign of vulnerability, dropping a set to 25th seed Albert Montanes, but holding on to win in 4, 6-4, 7-5, 2-6, 6-3. David Ferrer, Tomas Berdych and Nicolas Almagro all advanced in straights while others like Fernando Verdasco and Marin Cilic had much more difficulty, advancing in 4 over Florent Serra and 5 over Leonardo Mayer, respectively.

Caroline Wozniacki has been able to grin and bear her way to the 4th round despite a painbful ankle injury, defeating Alexanmdra Dulgheru in 2 sets on Friday to advance. In Wozniacki;s quarter lies the dangerous Maria Kirilenko, who ousted last year's champion Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-3, 2-6, 6-4. Kuznetsova is the highest seed in either draw to lose thus far. Francesca Schiavone defeated Li Na and both Yanina Wickmayer and Daniela Hantuchova triumphed, setting up a compelling match between the two of them in the third round.

Maria Sharapova and Justine Henin have not played each other since an Australian Open quarterfinal match that played a large part in Henin's abrupt retirement. In that encounter 2 years ago Sharapova demolished the Belgian, and since then, the two have gone on very different paths in their tennis careers. Both experienced breaks from tennis, one voluntary and one from injury, but the dice landed perfectly, and they are set to meet in the 3rd round of the French open on Saturday. On paper the 12th seeded Russian, who took out Kirsten Flipkens 3 and 3, is supposed to win, but Sharapova will be a heavy underdog against the 4-time RG champ, seeded 22nd.

The best match of the men's tournament thus far featured Ivan Ljubicic and Mardy fish, a pairing unlikely to produce an electrifying encounter. The 14th seeded Ljubicic won the opening set 6-2 but lost his momentum in losing the 2nd and 3rd 7-6 (8) and 6-4. The Indian Wells champion then came back to win the last two sets and the match 6-2 and 10-8. 3rd and 4th seeds Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray both reached the 3rd round with wins on Friday. Djokovic played his best match of the fortnight, beating 18 year old Kei Nishikori 6-1, 6-4, 6-4 and Murray fought off Marcos Baghdatis to earn a 6-2, 6-3, 0-6, 6-2 victory. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga got much needed crowd support in his 6-7 (6), 7-6 (4), 6-3, 6-4 win against Thiemo de Bakker. as the Frenchman was ostensibly in an incredible amount of pain throughout the 4-setter. Juan Carlos Ferrero also struggled, needing 4 sets to eliminate Pere Riba, while Fernando Gonzalez, 2009 semifinalist, was upset by Oleksandr Dolgopolov Jr.

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