French Open Day 7 recap: Stephens, Nadal keep on winning; Ivanovic falls
PARIS -- The fourth round is nearly set at the French Open (a few matches, including Andy Murray's, were suspended due to darkness). Sloane Stephens on Saturday advanced to the round of 16 for the sixth consecutive Grand Slam tournament, Ana Ivanovic couldn't solve Lucie Safarova again and Gael Monfils overcame Fabio Fognini in a predictably entertaining match. Here's a closer look at Day 7:
Play was suspended with Andy Murray on the ropes: The No. 7 seed looked to be cruising against Philipp Kohlschreiber, leading 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 with a break lead in the fourth set, when everything began spiraling out of control. Murray appeared to be suffering from a left hamstring problem, and after dropping the fourth set, he called for the trainer to rub out his legs three times in the final set. After a gritty hold by Kohlschreiber to get to 7-all, the match was suspended for light. The match between Richard Gasquet and Fernando Verdasco was also stopped, with Verdasco leading 6-3, 6-2, 2-2. Both third-rounders will resume on Sunday, and the winners will play each other.
Rafael Nadal's back is acting up again: Nadal beat Leonardo Mayer 6-2, 7-5, 6-2, but revealed after the match that he's suffering from back pain and it's affecting his serve. That's not good to hear from the defending champion, who nevertheless has rolled into the fourth round.
Sloane Stephens did what Sloane Stephens does: Another Grand Slam, another round of 16 for the 21-year-old American. She cruised past Ekaterina Makarova 6-3, 6-4 to reach the fourth round for the third consecutive time in Paris. She'll face No. 4 Simona Halep in the fourth round. Halep has won seven titles over the last year, but she hadn't been past the fourth round of a major until advancing to the Australian Open quarterfinals in January. Stephens has yet to make a tour final but done plenty of damage in Slams.
"She's played really, really well in the smaller tournaments like I haven't done, and she has a lot of experience with that," Stephens said. "I have a lot of experience here. I think we're just going to go out there and compete and just see what happens."
Another favorite is shown the door: After ending Maria Sharapova's winning streak on clay at the Italian Open, Ivanovic was considered by many as a dark-horse favorite at Roland Garros. But the No. 11 seed and 2008 champion fell to No. 23 Lucie Safarova 6-3, 6-3.
Ivanovic has now lost five straight matches to Safarova, but this was their first match on clay since 2008, when Ivanovic beat her here. Safaraova's huge victory was a long time coming. She had a match point on Li Na in the third round of the Australian Open but lost, one of a number of top players she has had on the ropes but couldn't finish. She nearly upset Sharapova in the first round of Stuttgart last month, losing 7-6 (5), 6-7 (5), 7-6 (2) in one of the best matches of the season. Safarova has played consistently well this year and it's good to see her finally break through.
The Gael Monfils/Fabio Fognini circus act delivers: There were point penalties and medical timeouts. There was cheering and booing. And there was even yelling at reporters after the match. Oh, and Monfils won 5-7, 6-2, 6-4, 0-6, 6-2. Read more about the match and watch the highlights here.
Svetlana Kuznetsova wins best match of women's tournament: Like Safarova, Kuznetsova was due for a big win, and she got it by outlasting No. 6 Petra Kvitova 6-7 (3), 6-1, 9-7 in 3 hours and 13 minutes. Kvitova saved two match points and served for the match twice but couldn't come up with the shots in those moments. Kuznetsova, the 2009 champion, will play Safarova for a spot in the quarterfinals.
Photo of the day
Photo of the day: Rafael Nadal edition
Stephens has no clue why she plays so well at the Slams.
Vine of the day
Tweets of the day
Wow! Thank you to EVERYONE who has given me so much support and love over this last week!I love all of you guys!More to come! #justwaitonit
— Taylor Townsend (@Taylor_Townsen) May 31, 2014
Ivanovic is not playing at all badly. No ... Wait ... She just somehow sliced so badly it became a moonball.
— Hannah Wilks (@newballsplease) May 31, 2014
Happy to see Kohly hold that last game. I was sitting courtside & could barely see the ball. A break there would've been unfair. Good drama.
— Darren Cahill (@darren_cahill) May 31, 2014
If you had Pauline Parmentier as Last Frenchwoman Remaining in your Roland Garros office pool...I want to work in your office. #RG14
— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) May 31, 2014
Wait wait wait wait. It's not what it looks like ... Is it? pic.twitter.com/UPOThpaqls
— Joe Fleming (@ByJoeFleming) May 31, 2014
Andy's thighs increase the amount of available daylight by a good 10 minutes. — Chris P (@scoobschris) May 31, 2014