Irina-Camelia Begu issued an apology after a racquet she threw into the ground bounced into the crowd and struck a child at the French Open.

The Romanian was playing in a second-round match against Ekaterina Alexandrova and was down a break in the third set when the incident happened.

The match was suspended as the young boy, who was sitting near the umpire's chair, was left in tears and being comforted by his parents.

Begu was issued a warning but avoided a default and went on to win the match 6-7 (3-7) 6-3 6-4.

She later posed for pictures with the boy and said sorry for her moment of frustration at a post-match news conference.

"Well, it's an embarrassing moment for me, so I don't want to talk too much about it. I just want to apologise," she said.

"My whole career I didn't do something like this, and I feel really bad and sorry. So I'm just going to say again, sorry for the incident and it was just an embarrassing moment for me.

"It was a difficult moment because I didn't want to hit that racquet. You hit the clay with the racquet, but you never expect [it] to fly that much."

A statement circulated by the French Tennis Federation from tournament referee Remy Azemar said: "The grand slam supervisor spoke with the parents who were with the child. The parents confirmed that the child was fine and not injured."

It said the racquet had "brushed a young spectator".

The incident was reminiscent of the 2020 US Open when men's world number one Novak Djokovic was defaulted when a ball he struck in anger hit a line judge.

Begu faces local favourite Leolia Jeanjean in round three.

Ekaterina Alexandrova said the "rules were against" her after she lost to Irina-Camelia Begu at the French Open, where her Romanian opponent accidentally hit a child in the crowd with her racket.

The incident occurred in the third set of the second round match on Thursday, with Begu slamming her racket in frustration after a lost point, inadvertently bouncing it off the court's surface and into the crowd, where it struck the youngster.

Begu has since apologised, calling it "embarrassing".

There was a short break in play as officials and supervisors checked on the crying child, before ultimately deciding to give Begu a code violation for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Once play resumed, Begu immediately broke Alexandrova's serve, and won six of the next eight games to seal a 6-7 (3-7) 6-3 6-4 victory.

In an Instagram post after her loss, Alexandrova expressed her disappointment, suggesting the rules had been against her.

"So disappointed to leave [Roland Garros] like that, I was trying to do my best, but seems like the rules were against me today," she wrote. "This shouldn't be happening. 

"I hope after today's match rules will be improved for everyone's safety. We are responsible for our racket."

Speaking to the media after her win, Begu was apologetic for her actions.

"Well, it's an embarrassing moment for me. I just want to apologise," she said. "My whole career I didn't do something like this, and I feel really bad and sorry. 

"So I'm just going to say again, sorry for the incident and, yeah, it was just an embarrassing moment for me.

She added: "It was a difficult moment because I didn't want to hit that racket, you know. 

"You hit the clay with the racket, but you never expect [it] to fly that much. 

"It was, as I said, embarrassing moment for me, and I just want to end it and not talk about it."

Maria Sakkari is handling the pressure of playing as top seed in a WTA Tour-level tournament for the first time, as she put herself to within one win of the final at the St Petersburg Ladies Open.

The Greek world number seven saw off a stern test from Elise Mertens on Friday, winning 7-6 (9-7) 6-2 to reach the semi-finals.

Sakkari had to salvage three set points in the opener, but eventually came out on top in the tie-break at the first time of asking.

Even with a comfortable lead in the second set, she failed to take the first three match points on offer, but got the fourth over the line to progress to her first semi-final of the season.

Sakkari, 26, previously reached the St Petersburg semi-final in 2020, where she lost to Elena Rybakina.

"When you're down in the score, you try to play more aggressively and [Elise] was playing really good in the last couple of games," Sakkari explained. 

"She came up with good serves and solid shots from the baseline. I just fought hard."

Next up

Irina-Camelia Begu stands in the way of Sakkari and a place in the final. 

The unseeded Romanian overcame two-time grand slam champion Petra Kvitova in the last 16 and defeated Tereza Martincova 6-4 6-2 in her last-eight tie.

It took just 85 minutes for Begu to secure her place in a fourth semi-final of her career at WTA 500 level or higher, but the first since 2017 in Moscow.

Kontaveit continues remarkable indoor run

World number nine Anett Kontaveit will face Jelena Ostapenko in the other semi-final, after ousting Tokyo 2020 gold medallist Belinda Bencic 7-6 (9-7) 6-2.

After her defeat of Bencic, second seed Kontaveit has now won 18 successive matches at indoor tournaments. She is the first player since Justine Henin in 2010 to go on such a streak.

Last year, the Estonian won titles in Ostrava, Moscow and Cluj-Napoca, which form part of this run.

Ostapenko, meanwhile, beat Aliaksandra Sasnovich 7-6 (7-5) 4-6 6-3 to take her place in the last four. The 2017 French Open champion has only lost to top-10 players so far in 2022 (Paula Badosa and Barbora Krejcikova).

Emma Raducanu collected her first WTA Tour victory as she defeated Polona Hercog at the Transylvania Open in Romania.

Raducanu, who was the surprise US Open champion in September after not dropping a set throughout the tournament, appeared at just her fourth tour-level tournament and came to Cluj as third favourite.

The 18-year-old had lost opening-round matches at previous events in Nottingham, San Diego and Indian Wells.

However, world number 23 Raducanu finally recorded her first victory as she overcame a first-set scare to triumph over Hercog 4-6 7-5 6-1.

In the opening match of Tuesday's fixtures, sixth seed Marta Kostyuk cruised past Bernard Pera 6-3 6-4 to secure her last-16 berth.

Irina-Camelia Begu, ranked one behind Kostyuk for the tournament, did not enjoy similar fortunes as Romanian compatriot Irina Bara triumphed 7-6 (7-2) 0-6 6-4.

Jaqueline Cristian survived a marathon slog against Kaja Juvan as she came from a set down to win 3-6 7-6 (10-8) 7-6 (7-3) and book a second-round meeting with Ajla Tomljanovic.

Number one seed Simona Halep – who departed at the quarter-final stage of the Kremlin Cup last week – plays her first game on home turf on Wednesday against Elena-Gabriele Rusa and could meet Raducanu in the semi-final stages.

Meanwhile, Liudmila Samsonova, the third favourite at the Courmayeur Open, cruised past Stephanie Wagner 6-3 6-0 while seventh seed Jasmine Paolini comfortably dispatched Martina Di Giuseppe 6-4 6-1.

Shuai Zhang, who is the third seed in Italy, also enjoyed a routine victory as she eased past Jessica Pieri 6-1 6-3 after fourth favourite Petra Martic crashed out 3-6 4-6 to Saisai Zheng.

Elina Svitolina required a third-set tie-break to progress at the Indian Wells Open, while former world number one Victoria Azarenka handled an old rival in straight sets and Simona Halep fell victim to an upset. 

Svitolina – the fourth seed – dropped the first set to 32nd seed Sorana Cirstea before fighting back to reach the round of 16 at the WTA Premier 1000 event on Sunday.

Two-time grand-slam champion Azarenka joined Svitolina in the next round after knocking out seventh seed Petra Kvitova, but 11th seed Halep became Aliaksandra Sasnovich's latest conquest. 

 

SVITOLINA SURVIVES CIRSTEA SCARE

Svitolina needed two hours, 32 minutes to outlast Cirstea 4-6 6-4 7-6 (7-3) and remain unbeaten in three career matches against the Romanian. 

The Ukrainian was on the defensive throughout the opening set, facing 11 break points on her serve and managing to save eight of them before Cirstea finally won out. 

Svitolina tightened things up from there, saving four of five break points the rest of the match. 

"It was a very tough match today, and I was fighting and trying to find my game," said Svitolina, who will face Jessica Pegula next. "It was a bit of a rollercoaster.

"I wish I could play a little bit better in the first set, I had chances to grab that set, but unfortunately it didn't play the way I wanted. I had to fight for every point, and Sorana played a great match, I think. I'm happy that I could win today."

 

AZARENKA TAKES DOWN KVITOVA

Azarenka won her first two Tour-level matches against Kvitova in 2008 and 2009 but had prevailed only once in six meetings since then before Sunday's 7-5 6-4 triumph. 

The two-time Indian Wells champion converted break-point chances when she needed them, six of 11 in all, and had 18 unforced errors to Kvitova's 26. 

"It was important to just stay there, really take my opportunities, not to let her," Azarenka said after taking down two-time Wimbledon winner Kvitova. "If she gets in the groove in couple points, not to kind of let her extend that streak, if you want to call it that.

"I was trying to still create opportunities for myself, be more aggressive, and honestly just believing also that what I'm doing is right and see how I can execute that. So intention was good. Execution followed after."

 

ANOTHER UPSET FOR SASNOVICH

After knocking off US Open champion Emma Raducanu in the second round, Sasnovich ushered out another grand slam winner in Halep 7-5 6-4 and will next face Azarenka.

The world number 100 had 22 winners to 16 for Halep and won 61.8 per cent of points on her serve as she reached the round of 16 at Indian Wells for the first time. 

In other matches Sunday, ninth seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova fell to 23rd seed and US Open runner-up Leylah Fernandez 5-7 6-3 6-4, while second seed Iga Swiatek dropped only one game in a 6-1 6-0 demolition of Veronika Kudermetova. 

Jelena Ostapenko and Shelby Rogers also advanced. 

Anett Kontaveit ended a four-year title drought by beating Irina-Camelia Begu to win the inaugural Tennis in the Land event on Saturday.

Kontaveit had failed to win a tournament since her maiden WTA Tour triumph in 's-Hertogenbosch back in 2017 before defeating Begu 7-6 (7-5) 6-4.

The world number 30 from Estonia had lost two finals this year, but she was not to be denied in Cleveland.

Begu fought back from 5-2 down in the first set to force a tie-break, but one mini-break was enough for second seed Kontaveit to take a big stride towards an elusive title.

The composed Kontaveit did not face a break point in a tight second set, not allowing her Romanian opponent a look-in as she served superbly.

Kontaveit only had one break-point opportunity of her own, but grasped it to lead 2-1 and went on to seal a confidence-boosting triumph ahead of the US Open.

Sam Stosur will be Kontaveit's opponent in the first round at Flushing Meadows, while Begu faces Andrea Petkovic.

Serena Williams started her quest to match Margaret Court's grand slam record by seeing off Irina-Camelia Begu in the first round of the French Open.

Williams, who reached the semi-finals in Melbourne earlier this year, has been stuck on 23 slam triumphs – one shy of Court's career haul – since winning the 2017 Australian Open.

But the seventh seed in Paris did just enough in a challenging opening outing on Monday, the first official night match in French Open history, overcoming Begu 7-6 (8-6) 6-2 in one hour and 44 minutes.

Begu proved a worthy match, winning four straight games and at one point holding two set points in the opener, but the world number eight's quality and experience ultimately came to the fore.

Having charged into a 5-3 lead, Williams found herself at 0-30 down when serving for the first set, and an overhit slice followed by another errant, awkward backhand gave Begu the break.

More unforced errors followed from Williams as her hopes of clinching the set with a return break were dashed, before the 39-year-old scooped long on her own serve to give Begu the advantage.

The American regained her composure to hit back, though, and force a tiebreak. Begu had two set points to play with at 6-4 up, but Williams rallied, winning the next four to take a hard-fought lead.

A superb drop shot teed Williams up for a break at the start of the second set, yet she tensed up again in game six.

Williams was applauding Begu for a supreme forehand down the line, but the former world number one was soon frustrated as the Romanian clawed back to deuce three times.

Begu's resolve finally crumbled, however, and Williams was left to serve out a win which sets up a second-round tie with Mihaela Buzarnescu.

DATA SLAM: Error-strewn Williams will have to sharpen up

By 3-3 in the tiebreaker, Williams had made 21 unforced errors, in contrast to just seven from Begu. Williams tightened up after nosing ahead, making just nine more in the remainder of the contest, but she will know such issues cannot continue if there is to be a chance of reigning again in the French capital this year.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Williams – 27/30
Begu – 18/17

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Williams – 5/2
Begu – 2/3

BREAK POINTS WON
Williams – 5/8
Begu – 3/5

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