Alexander Zverev finally advanced to the semi-finals of the French Open with a comfortable 6-4 6-1 6-1 win over Alejandro Davidovich Fokina on Tuesday.

The sixth seed was playing in the last eight at Roland Garros for the third time in four seasons but had twice previously fallen at this stage.

Some inconsistent early serving aside, another slip-up never appeared likely as Zverev secured swift progress on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

Next is the winner of Daniil Medvedev versus Stefanos Tsitsipas, the other quarter-final in the bottom half of the draw that should prove rather more testing for the victor.

A peculiar first set saw only four games stay on serve as both players showed signs of frustration, first with Zverev offering an incredulous response to a tight but correct line call that allowed his opponent to hold.

Zverev's anger was short-lived, though, as error-strewn serving on both sides of the net ensured regular opportunities.

Davidovich Fokina inadvertently threw his racket into the stands after sending a deep forehand wide and another poor shot into the net sealed the opener for Zverev, who seized on the Spaniard's sloppy play once more to lead early in the second.

This was not an advantage he would cede, racing through the set in only 26 minutes as a tiring Davidovich Fokina won a meagre 11 points.

The struggling underdog saved two break points at the start of the third but then went long to tee up another opportunity that was duly taken, quickly bringing the finish line into view for Zverev.

Indeed, just 21 minutes were required this time to see out the match as Zverev's power made light work of the 22-year-old with two more ruthless breaks.


Data Slam: Second serves sting Spaniard

Neither player served well in the first set, but Zverev crucially managed to win 44 per cent of points on second serve. That modest return gave him the edge over Davidovich Fokina's 26 per cent, even as the Spaniard had two double-faults to his opponent's three.

Once Zverev had the lead, this was an uphill task for Davidovich Fokina, who had run a marathon to reach this stage, notably outlasting Casper Ruud over four hours and 35 minutes.
 

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Zverev – 24/16
Davidovich Fokina – 16/37

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Zverev – 3/3
Davidovich Fokina – 0/3

BREAK POINTS WON

Zverev – 9/15
Davidovich Fokina – 3/6

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova fought back to win a pulsating French Open battle with her doubles partner Elena Rybakina and reach an elusive first grand slam semi-final.

A decade after playing in the last eight of a major for the first time at Roland Garros, Pavlyuchenkova finally broke new ground with a hard-fought 6-7 (2-7) 6-2 9-7 victory on Tuesday.

The 29-year-old had lost six grand slam singles quarter-finals but the 31st seed will do battle with surprise package Tamara Zidansek for a place in the championship match in Paris.

Rybakina beat the great Serena Williams to reach the last eight and gave another demonstration of her huge promise, but made 43 unforced errors in an entertaining contest that took two hours and 33 minutes to settle on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

After Kazakh Rybakina claimed the first break for a 3-1 first-set lead with clean striking off both wings, Pavlyuchenkova took a more aggressive approach and that paid off when she got back on serve at 4-3.

Rybakina, the 21st seed, took that setback in her stride, storming into a 5-0 lead after a tactical first-set battle was taken to a tie-break, which ended with Pavlyuchenkova putting a backhand into the net.

Pavlyuchenkova appeared to have missed out on a fourth chance to break in a long sixth game of the second set when she slipped, but looked up while she was sitting on the clay to discover Rybakina had made a mess of a simple smash.

The 29-year-old broke again to wrap up the set and maintained her momentum in the decider, charging into a 2-0 lead - with her backhand firing.

They were back on serve at 4-4 with the nerves jangling following four breaks in five games, both players looking understandably tense but still producing some high-quality tennis.

It was Pavlyuchenkova who claimed the decisive fifth break of a long final set to advance, earning a match point with a rasping forehand winner before her young opponent double-faulted.

 

Data Slam: A half-century to remember for Pavlyuchenkova

Pavlyuchenkova is making her 50th grand slam main draw appearance and she has marked it with her best run. More proof that persistence pays off.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Pavlyuchenkova – 44/28
Rybakina – 46/43

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Pavlyuchenkova – 5/2
Rybakina – 5/6

BREAK POINTS WON

Pavlyuchenkova– 6/17
Rybakina – 3/7

Tamara Zidansek powered into the French Open semi-finals on Tuesday with a three-set win over Paula Badosa as her remarkable campaign at Roland Garros continued.

The world number 85 was the lowest-ranked player in the quarter-finals, which featured six players never to have reached this stage of a grand slam before, a record in the Open Era.

The first woman representing Slovenia to get to the last eight of a major, Zidansek handled the occasion better as she moved a set and 4-2 ahead on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

Badosa responded with some powerful hitting as her opponent began to falter, but Zidansek summoned up energy reserves when it mattered to clinch a 7-5 4-6 8-6 win in two hours and 26 minutes.

Badosa, the 33rd seed, had never before been beyond the fourth round of a slam but came into the contest with some pedigree at this event, having won the girls' title in 2015.

The Spaniard eased into a 3-0 lead in the opening set, but Zidansek won five of the next six games to take the lead in the match for the first time. Badosa warded off a set point but succumbed to the second as a slice clipped the top of the net.

Badosa had been one of the form players on clay this year, winning in Belgrade last month after reaching the semi-finals in Madrid and Charleston, but the 23-year-old sent a tight forehand into the tramlines to hand Zidansek a 3-1 lead in the second set.

The Slovenian was similarly tentative in the next game, sending a careless shot long to hand back the break to trigger a succession of unsteady service games from both players.

Badosa, who racked up five double faults in the second set, fell 4-2 behind, only to respond with three games in a row, breaking Zidansek to love before levelling the match when a strong forehand forced an error.

Just as she looked in control, Badosa slapped a forehand into the net to hand back a break, and suddenly Zidansek's laser groundstrokes began to find their mark again, a thumping winner moving her 5-4 ahead.

She dug deep to save break points and move 7-6 ahead after the longest game of the match, and one last forehand winner on the second match point was enough to end a gruelling contest and set up a semi-final against the victor of the clash between Elena Rybakina and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

 

Data Slam: Zidansek on target at critical moments

"I was struggling a little bit but, in the third set, I managed to get my groove," said an emotional Zidansek after an exhausting match.

Her accuracy at the crucial points late in the contest proved decisive. She hit 22 of her 48 winners in the deciding set, helping her to swat away break points before clinching the victory.

 

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Zidansek – 48/39
Badosa – 31/47

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Zidansek – 1/3
Badosa – 2/9

BREAK POINTS WON

Zidansek – 8/13
Badosa – 7/14

Andy Murray could hold the key to Iga Swiatek converting her clay-court mastery to the grass of Wimbledon.

Reigning French Open champion Swiatek has powered through to the quarter-finals this year at Roland Garros, and the 20-year-old looks the player to beat.

But soon attentions will switch from the clay in Paris to the grass of London, and Swiatek feels she could do with some pointers.

As Swiatek wrapped up a straight-sets win over Marta Kostyuk on Monday in Paris, Murray tweeted, "Love watching @iga_swiatek", followed by a heart emoji.

Swiatek responded: "Thank you Sir Andy! Are you by any chance up for a practice? I really need to improve my skills on grass."

Andy Roddick is also a fan of the 20-year-old Polish player, with the former US Open winner responding to Murray's initial tweet by saying: "Agreed. She is awesome."

Murray has been champion twice at Wimbledon, beating Novak Djokovic in 2013 and Milos Raonic in 2016.

It remains to be seen how Swiatek gets on when she heads to the All England Club, having made only one previous appearance there in the women's singles, losing in the first round to Viktorija Golubic two years ago.

She can point to some proven prowess, however, having been girls' champion in 2018.

Swiatek has a French Open campaign to complete before she can seriously begin to think about the grass, with a last-eight clash against Maria Sakkari coming up on Wednesday.

Facing Rafael Nadal at the French Open is arguably the toughest challenge in sport, such is the King of Clay's incredible record at Roland Garros and, for Diego Schwartzman, forgetting about the 13-time champion and his reputation will be half the battle when he faces him in Wednesday's quarter-final.

Schwartzman is enjoying another excellent run at Roland Garros, having reached the semi-finals last year only to be defeated by Nadal in their 11th career meeting.

The Argentinian saw off Jan-Lennard Struff in straight sets on Monday before Nadal recovered from a slow start to beat Jannik Sinner in three and set up a reunion in the last eight.

They are the only two players remaining in the draw who are yet to drop a set.

Schwartzman has a 1-10 record against Nadal but has the distinction of having beaten the Spaniard on clay, doing so in Rome in 2020.

And he took a set off Nadal in their first clash at Roland Garros back in 2018, though he could not do the same last year.

Asked about the prospect of a four or five-hour match with Nadal, Schwartzman told a media conference: "I think at the beginning of every match against Rafa, you have to walk on the court thinking to win the match, to have opportunities, to get opportunities, and think about something else and not think about Rafa on the other side of the net.

"If you think about the four, five hours you are going to play, if you think about everything about Rafa in Roland Garros, he's very difficult to play.

"You know, you have to go on court, think about the tactics, think about how to play your best game. 

"It's Rafa and you never know what is going to happen, and everyone knows that it's going to be very difficult.

"Playing against Rafa in these kind of tournaments, it's always, I mean, a good step, a good time to know how good are you playing. It's always a good challenge.

"I want to be there one more time. I beat him one time, so is not the same thing. I know we played two times here were good matches, and now let's see what happens. I have to enjoy today, day free tomorrow, and let's see what happens on Wednesday."

Nadal heads into the contest content with his overall performance against Sinner, who failed to serve for the first set and could not produce a turnaround in the second despite fighting from 4-0 down to get back on serve at 4-3.

"I think I started the first two games playing great. Then I had a bad game with 2-0 and with the wind helping, so that was a big mistake. Then I started to play too much against his backhand and too far from the baseline. So then I give him the chance to be inside the court and to have the control of the point from inside," said Nadal.

"From that position he's dangerous. I was a little bit farther every time, no, from the baseline. Then I was able to have the break back in the 5-4 with the wind helping. I know that was a chance. So it was important to hold my serve with the 5-3 against the wind.

"Then with the 5-4, you know that you can have your chances. So that's what happened. I won that game. I had the break. Then I play a solid game with my serve.

"Then from that moment to 7-5, 4-0 I think I played very good level of tennis. Then again, couple of mistakes and he played well, honestly. Four-three until that moment to the
end of the match I think I played great."

Defending champion Iga Swiatek overcame a strong challenge from Marta Kostyuk to reach the French Open quarter-finals.

Swiatek is the only top-10 player in the last eight of the women's draw at Roland Garros after beating the 18-year-old Kostyuk 6-3 6-4 on Monday.

Playing her first night match on Court Philippe-Chatrier, Swiatek came from a break down in a thrilling first set and went on to book a meeting with Maria Sakkari – conqueror of last year's runner-up Sofia Kenin.

Eighth seed Swiatek has won 22 consecutive sets at the Paris grand slam and is a strong favourite to win back-to-back titles.

Swiatek, who won a marathon doubles match in combination with Bethanie Mattek-Sands on Sunday, was 2-1 down in the opening set as world number 81 Kostyuk was rewarded for her positive approach.

The 20-year-old Pole responded like a champion, though, breaking back immediately and again after fending off two break points to take a 4-3 lead.

Swiatek, demonstrating her great power and precision, served out the opening set and went a break up at 2-1 in the second, but Kostyuk – playing at this stage of a grand slam for the first time –was not finished yet.

The teenager defended brilliantly and showed great speed over the court as she broke back to level at 2-2 when Swiatek netted a backhand.

Yet Swiatek edged back in front when Kostyuk put a backhand of her own into the net and sealed victory with a magnificent winner – her 24th of an entertaining match.

Rafael Nadal continued on his serene path to a 14th French Open title by seeing off Jannik Sinner in straight sets.

Having seen Italian compatriot Lorenzo Musetti take Novak Djokovic to five sets earlier on Court Philippe-Chatrier, Sinner made a strong start against the King of Clay.

However, whereas Musetti took two sets from the world number one before being outpunched by Djokovic, Sinner was swiftly reeled back in after spurning a chance to win the first set.

The 19-year-old's spirited efforts were undermined by 40 unforced errors, offering Nadal far too many opportunities to press home the gulf in class and experience in a 7-5 6-3 6-0 win.

Nadal held to love in his first service game and then immediately broke Sinner. However, he was uncharacteristically sloppy across his next two service games, sending down three double faults, as Sinner reversed the tide to surge into a 4-2 lead.

Yet the teenager crumbled as he failed to serve out the set, surrendering a break to love with a double fault.

Then tasked with serving to stay in the set, Sinner had no answer for Nadal, who was now in full flow, an exquisite drop shot bringing up three set points. Sinner saved one, but Nadal's defence forced him into a forehand error that handed the Spaniard his 33rd consecutive set at Roland Garros.

A scorching cross-court backhand saw Nadal craft an early break in the second and he seemingly had a stranglehold on the contest after going 4-0 up.

Sinner surprisingly rattled off the next three games to get back on serve, only to instantly cede the advantage back to Nadal, who subsequently wrapped up the second set with a powerful serve down the middle.

And there was no fightback from Sinner in the third as Nadal coasted to a last-eight clash with Diego Schwartzman, who won earlier against Jan-Lennard Struff.

Iga Swiatek is the only top-10 player remaining in the women's singles draw at the French Open after Maria Sakkari beat Sofia Kenin in straight sets.

Sakkari moved into the quarter-finals of a grand slam for the first time with an emphatic 6-1 6-3 defeat of last year's runner-up Kenin on Monday.

Greek 17th seed Sakkari will face either defending champion Swiatek or Marta Kostyuk in the last eight at Roland Garros.

The 25-year-old is the first Greek woman to reach a grand slam quarter-final in the Open Era.

World number four Kenin made 32 unforced errors and racked up nine double faults in a one-sided contest on Court Suzanne-Lenglen.

Sakkari broke the 2020 Australian Open champion, beaten by Swiatek in the 2020 final, six times and lost just four points on her first serve to march into the last eight.

Coco Gauff, 17, earlier became the youngest grand slam quarter-finalist for 15 years by beating Ons Jabeur 6-3 6-1, while Barbora Krejcikova thrashed Sloane Stephens 6-2 6-0 in Paris.

Novak Djokovic came from two sets down against Lorenzo Musetti on Monday to reach the quarter-finals of the French Open for a record 12th consecutive year after his opponent retired in the fifth set.

The world number one went into the contest with the 19-year-old having not dropped a set at these championships but found himself in big trouble after a gruelling first couple of hours.

It felt like a different match entirely after that, as Djokovic won 16 of the final 17 games before Musetti retired with the scores at 6-7 (7-9) 6-7 (2-7) 6-1 6-0 4-0 in the 2016 champion's favour.

The Serbian seemed unsettled by Musetti's unpredictable early approach, the teenager mixing up forehand speeds and backhand passes to good effect after an early exchange of breaks.

It looked like Djokovic had control of the opening tie-break only for Musetti to win five out of six points to lead 6-5. Two rasping forehands soon secured the set after a Djokovic error.

Belief in a shock upset really did begin to grow when Musetti took a 3-1 lead in the second set, at which point Djokovic literally took his hat off to his opponent. Whether it was psychological or his cap really was a bother, a bare-headed Djokovic promptly broke back to love.

Djokovic's error count dropped from 20 in the first set to 15 in the second, but the momentum still seemed to be with the Italian, who continued to paint the lines from both sides of the court even when it seemed impossible: early in the second tie-break, a reflex lob from the net somehow bounced on the baseline as his opponent watched in disbelief.

Deserved as his lead was, there was still a feeling that, should Musetti's standards slip even a touch, the door to the comeback would be open. Djokovic seemed to sense as much, returning from a bathroom break to power his way through the third set in just 28 minutes, less than half the time of each of the first two.

Suddenly, doubt crept into Musetti's play as Djokovic began to dictate. He won 16 points in a row to take a 4-0 lead in the fourth and broke again with the sort of drop-shot winner that Musetti had anticipated with ease in the opening two hours.

Djokovic was troubled by his lower back before the fifth set and needed treatment to his hand after somehow winning the first point on the Musetti serve despite falling heavily in the dirt.

Yet it was Musetti whose body could simply no longer keep up, his retirement ensuring Djokovic will now face Matteo Berrettini in the last eight.
 

Data Slam: Djokovic kept his cool as Musetti froze

Djokovic is rarely shy about showing his emotions on court, so it was interesting to see not a single outburst even after he fell 2-0 down.

Each player had won 85 points in those first two sets and Djokovic seemed to know this was no one-sided affair. When he moved up a gear and Musetti started to falter in mind and body, it was a totally different contest, Musetti winning just 18 points in the final 17 games.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Djokovic – 53/42
Musetti – 30/49

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Djokovic – 11/2
Musetti – 1/2

BREAK POINTS WON

Djokovic – 9/9
Musetti – 2/4

Coco Gauff acknowledges she is playing her best ever tennis at a grand slam tournament but is not yet thinking about winning the French Open.

The 17-year-old reached her first major quarter-final by brilliantly beating Ons Jabeur 6-3 6-1 in the fourth round on Monday.

Gauff said afterwards she was "definitely still learning" how to play on clay, but her progress on the biggest stage is evident – to herself and others.

"Yeah, it definitely does feel different," she said. "I just feel like it's been, I guess, professional.

"I feel like all my matches have been pretty straightforward wins, like no crazy three sets and stuff. As we know, I have had a lot of those in the past.

"I just feel like this has been the most consistent tennis I have played at this level. Hopefully I can keep that going."

Gauff had previously reached the fourth round at the Australian Open and Wimbledon but lost on both occasions.

"I think I was just more hungry for it," she said this time.

"I feel like in the past I felt like I was satisfied with the run I made in the tournament, so maybe I feel like I came into the matches not as hungry. I know it's probably not a good thing to say but it's the truth.

"But I think, with a lot of young players, we tend to get satisfied with certain results before we realise that we can really shoot for more.

"You know, my message has always been 'dream big and aim higher'.

"I think that today was honestly coming from that message of aiming higher, because I could have easily said I'm satisfied with the fourth round and everything.

"Today I think I just came in more hungry and wanting more compared to my last times I have been in the fourth round."

The American sensation is now just three wins away from a remarkable first grand slam triumph, but she is not getting ahead of herself.

Gauff refused to be distracted even from an ongoing UNO tournament with her parents in their hotel room, in which she says she leads the way with 16 wins.

"To be honest, I haven't really thought about [the championship]," she said. "I'm really just focused on the match ahead of me.

"I don't want to think too far. You have to focus on what's in front of you. That's really the only answer I have.

"Right now, I'm focused on going to sleep tonight and winning the next UNO match and then tomorrow we focus back on practice and then get ready for the quarter-finals."

Gauff became the youngest major quarter-finalist since 2006 with her win.

"I don't really care if you guys talk about my age or not," she said. "I'm 17. That's the truth. If you guys want to talk about it, it's fine.

"I mean, on the court, I promise you my opponents probably don't care about how old I am. They want to beat me just as bad regardless of my age, and I want to beat them just as bad regardless of their age.

"I don't mind if you guys talk about my age. It's a fact to me and it's going to change every year.

"I'm only going to be 17 once, so you might as well talk about it while I'm 17."

It is already only a matter of time before Coco Gauff becomes a major champion, according to beaten French Open opponent Ons Jabeur.

Gauff raced into the last eight at Roland Garros with a ruthless 6-3 6-1 victory over Jabeur on Court Philippe-Chatrier on Monday.

In doing so, the 17-year-old become the youngest female quarter-finalist at a grand slam in 15 years.

Gauff had previously reached the fourth round at both the Australian Open and Wimbledon and won in Paris as a junior.

After a pair of WTA Tour career titles, the next step is to triumph on the biggest stage.

Defending champion Iga Swiatek was still to play on Monday, but Jabeur considers Gauff a good match for the 20-year-old.

"She's playing really good, I've got to say," Jabeur said. "But you never know. Iga is playing really well. It's going to be an interesting matchup if they're going to meet in the semi-final.

"Honestly, if she's not going to win it now, she's probably going to win another time."

Speaking on court, Gauff said: "I'm super happy that I was able to reach my first quarter-final. I played really well today, so I'm happy about that.

"Parma [the Emilia-Romagna Open, won last month] gave me a lot of confidence, especially on the clay.

"It's my first title on clay, so coming here it gave me a lot of confidence and taught me a lot [about] how to close matches and deal with the pressure on important points."

Barbora Krejcikova is up next, having beaten Sloane Stephens, and post-match questions unsurprisingly focused on the quarter-final.

Krejcikova said Gauff "is going to be the next star" and added: "She's young. She's incredible. She's doing really well. She has the weapons. She has the game. I think she's mentally really tough."

The Czech, a 6-2 6-0 winner, said: "I don't know how I would approach this if I was 17 and I was actually doing this well.

"I think it would be just too much pressure, I think it would be just too much pressure for me and maybe I won't be able to handle this. Everybody is different. Everybody is doing a different thing. She's doing really good."

Serena Williams said she would head to London "pretty soon" to start preparation for Wimbledon after being dumped out of the French Open by Elena Rybakina.

Rybakina, who represents Kazakhstan, had not previously been past the second round at Roland Garros but she was in superb form against 23-time grand slam winner Williams, storming to a 6-3 7-5 win in one hour and 19 minutes to reach the quarter-finals.

Russian-born Rybakina was excellent value for her stunning win on Sunday, converting five of her seven break points and winning almost 60 per cent of points returning Williams' second serve.

Far from being disappointed at her early exit, Williams said she was just pleased to have put together a run of three consecutive wins on clay before Sunday's defeat.

"I got some good matches in here," Williams told a media conference. "I did not have the best clay-court season, but it was good to finally get some wins on clay. I'm in a much better place than when I got here.

"It was definitely close. There is literally a point here, a point there, that could change the whole course of the match. I'm not winning those points. That literally could just change everything."

Asked if it might be her final French Open match, the 39-year-old American said: "I'm definitely not thinking about it at all. I'm definitely thinking just about other things but not about that."

One of those "other things" will be Wimbledon, where she has been a singles champion seven times. Asked when she would travel to London for the tournament that begins on June 28, Williams said: "[I will] possibly go home and regroup and then get ready for London. But I don't know. I have to get there early for quarantine, so, yeah, it has to be pretty soon."

Rybakina, who will face Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the quarter-finals, had never faced Williams before.

She said: "When I was small, of course I was watching her matches on TV. It's difficult to expect anything because you watch on TV and it's completely different when you come on court and you feel the power and everything. I knew that the serve was going to be difficult for me to return. She's powerful, but I was ready."

PAVLYUCHENKOVA ENDS LONG WAIT FOR LAST-EIGHT SPOT

Pavlyuchenkova reached the quarter-finals of the French Open for the first time in 10 years with a 5-7 6-3 6-2 victory over 15th seed Victoria Azarenka.

It is the seventh grand slam quarter-final for Pavlyuchenkova, who is seeded 31st at Roland Garros, and her first outside Australia in five years.

The Russian had lost to Azarenka in five of their last six matches and looked set for more disappointment when the Belarusian powered back from 3-1 down to take the first set.

However, Pavlyuchenkova fought back in style, hitting 24 winners and making just 11 unforced errors over the next two sets to book her last-eight spot in two hours and nine minutes.

"It's tough to remember what I felt like 10 years ago," she said. "I'd say completely different. I'm very happy also now. I think I feel a little different. I feel more mature. It's a good moment, I'm enjoying it, but I've got work to do.

"I hope I show more maturity as well, smarter tennis, more consistent. I feel quite fit as well, considering the fact that I'm not the youngest on tour now.

"I know what I have to do and I know what I want to do; I'm trying to work for that."

Reflecting on her defeat, Azarenka said: "There's always some positives. The most positive thing I will say from this week, not the whole season, is that I've been able to play pain free. That was my goal here. Everything else is something that can be analysed later."

BADOSA AND ZIDANESK REACH QUARTER-FINALS FOR FIRST TIME

Paula Badosa will compete in her first grand slam quarter-final after overcoming 20th seed Marketa Vondrousova 6-4 3-6 6-2.

Badosa, who reached the semi-finals in Charleston and Madrid before picking up her maiden title in Belgrade a fortnight ago, saved six of the nine break points she faced and converted five of the 10 she forced on her opponent's serve.

"I always thought that tennis is 80 per cent mental," the Spanish 33rd seed said. "I think when you're in these rounds, of course the racket is important, how you play, it's very important.

"I think it's a little bit more important how you manage all the nerves in the important moments. I think when you're here, the mental thing, it's a little bit the key."

She will face world number 85 Tamara Zidanesk, who became the first player representing Slovenia to reach the last eight of a grand slam thanks to a 7-6 (7-4) 6-1 win over Sorana Cirstea.

The best previous major performance by a player representing Slovenia had been the three fourth-round runs by Katarina Srebotnik at Roland Garros in 2002 and 2008, and the US Open in 2008.

"I'm getting a lot of messages that everyone is watching," Zidansek said. "It means a lot to me that I'm able to get across to the message to young people and everyone in Slovenia that we can do it.

"We're a small country; we don't have that many players, but we have good players."

Serena Williams crashed out of the French Open in the fourth round as 21st seed Elena Rybakina sealed a stunning 6-3 7-5 victory on Sunday.

Rybakina, representing Kazakhstan, had not previously been past the second round at Roland Garros but she is enjoying a strong run this fortnight and showed no nerves against her illustrious opponent, hitting a series of impressive winners that the 39-year-old Williams could not match.

After breaking back and then moving 5-4 ahead in the second set, it seemed 23-time grand slam champion Williams might take the match to a decider, but Rybakina reeled off the next three games to seal the biggest win of her career and set up a quarter-final clash against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. 

Rybakina started in a confident mood, winning her first two service games without dropping a point.

Williams came under intense pressure on her second service game, with Rybakina breaking and opening up a 3-1 lead when the American sent a backhand long.

Williams broke back in the seventh game of the match, but she squandered the opportunity to pull level when Rybakina broke again in the next game.

A nervy Rybakina needed four set points to win the opener 6-3, sealing it in 36 minutes when Williams flashed a cross-court backhand long.

Williams found herself in more trouble at the start of the second set, Rybakina comfortably breaking to move 1-0 up, but the three-time Roland Garros champion restored parity in the next game with four consecutive winners.

Rybakina missed a golden opportunity to set up a break point in the fifth match of the second set, sending a backhand long with Williams out of position, the American surviving to serve out the game and move 3-2 up.

The 21-year-old won the next game with an ace, setting the stage for her to break Williams and move 4-3 ahead.

Williams roared back, though, winning the next two games to leave Rybakina serving to stay in the set.

Not only did she do that, but she won the next two games as well to put the seal on a memorable victory that took one hour and 19 minutes.

 

DATA SLAM: RYBAKINA PUNISHES SLOPPY WILLIAMS

Williams looked well off the pace against an opponent who certainly made the most of her first appearance in the fourth round of a grand slam tournament. Williams won just 59 per cent of the points from her first serve, compared to Rybakina's 69 per cent, while the Russian-born player won 86 per cent of points at the net compared to Williams' 50 per cent.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Williams – 15/19
Rybakina – 21/13

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Williams – 2/1
Rybakina – 4/4

BREAK POINTS WON

Williams – 3/5
Rybakina – 5/7

Roger Federer withdrew from the French Open on Sunday after winning through to the fourth round, citing a desire not to rush his return from injury.

The 39-year-old Swiss prevailed 7-6 (7-5) 6-7 (3-7) 7-6 (7-4) 7-5 over Dominik Koepfer on Saturday in the longest match he has played in 18 months, following double knee surgery. The contest lasted three hours and 35 minutes.

Federer laboured at times, making 63 unforced errors, fighting hard to triumph in front of an empty crowd locked out by Paris' 9pm curfew, with the match finishing at close to 1am.

The 20-time grand slam winner has played few tournaments over the past 18 months and said a need to rest his body was behind his decision to withdraw.

In a statement released by the French Open, Federer said: "After discussions with my team, I've decided I will need to pull out of Roland Garros today.

"After two knee surgeries and over a year of rehabilitation it's important that I listen to my body and make sure I don't push myself too quickly on my road to recovery.

"I am thrilled to have gotten three matches under my belt. There is no greater feeling than being back on court."

Tournament director Guy Forget said: "The Roland Garros tournament is sorry about the withdrawal of Roger Federer, who put up an incredible fight last night.

"We were all delighted to see Roger back in Paris, where he played three high-level matches. We wish him all the best for the rest of the season."

Federer entered the clay-court major with a 1-2 win-loss record for the year, most recently losing to Pablo Andujar in Geneva last month, and little was expected from him.

However, three wins on the spin showed he is not finished yet at the highest level, with his withdrawal suggesting he wants to preserve himself for Wimbledon, which starts at the end of the month.

Federer had been due to play ninth seed Matteo Berrettini in the last 16 on Monday.

Roger Federer withdrew from the French Open on Sunday after winning through to the fourth round, citing a desire not to rush his return from injury.

The 39-year-old Swiss prevailed 7-6 (7-5) 6-7 (3-7) 7-6 (7-4) 7-5 over Dominik Koepfer on Saturday in the longest match he has played in 18 months, following double knee surgery. The contest lasted three hours and 35 minutes.

Federer laboured at times, making 63 unforced errors, fighting hard to triumph in front of an empty crowd locked out by Paris' 9pm curfew, with the match finishing at close to 1am.

The 20-time grand slam winner has played few tournaments over the past 18 months and said a need to rest his body was behind his decision to withdraw.

In a statement released by the French Open, Federer said: "After discussions with my team, I've decided I will need to pull out of Roland Garros today.

"After two knee surgeries and over a year of rehabilitation it's important that I listen to my body and make sure I don't push myself too quickly on my road to recovery.

"I am thrilled to have gotten three matches under my belt. There is no greater feeling than being back on court."

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