SHARAPOVA

Sharapova dismisses Pliskova in quick time

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Nadal continues mastery over Gasquet; Bopanna & Roger-Vasselin combine in quarterfinals

Maria Sharapova marked her first appearance on Court Philippe Chatrier in three years with a 6-2, 6-1 rout of Karolina Pliskova to set up a potential French Open last-16 duel with nemesis Serena Williams on Saturday, while 10-time champion Rafael Nadal defeated childhood friend Richard Gasquet for the 16th time.

Five-time Grand Slam champion Sharapova, the winner in Paris in 2012 and 2014, hadn’t played on Roland Garros’ showpiece arena since a quarterfinal exit in 2015. The 31-year-old served a doping suspension in 2016 and was refused a wild card in 2017.

However, she made up for lost time by firing 18 winners past an under-cooked Pliskova, the sixth seed, in just under an hour.

Sharapova and Serena have met 21 times, with the American leading the head-to-head record 19-2 after 18 consecutive wins dating back to 2004.

Nadal continued his bid for an 11th French Open title by brushing aside his childhood friend Gasquet. The 16-time Grand Slam champion, who eased to a 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 victory on Chatrier, now has 82 wins and just two losses here. The 31-year-old also took his run of consecutive completed sets at the French Open to 34, just seven shy of the record held by Bjorn Borg between 1979 and 1981.

Nadal, who lost only two points in the first five games, will next play Germany’s World No. 70 Maximilian Marterer, who beat Estonian lucky loser Jurgen Zopp.

Former champion Garbine Muguruza reached the last 16 for the fifth successive year with a comfortable 6-0, 6-2 win over Australia’s Sam Stosur.

Spanish third seed Muguruza, the 2016 winner in Paris and the reigning Wimbledon champion, fired 15 winners past Stosur, the 34-year-old 2010 runner-up and former US Open champion.

“I knew this would be very tough against a former US Open winner and a player who has made the final here,” said 24-year-old Muguruza.

“If I didn’t play my best tennis, I realised that it would be very hard.”

Estonian 25th seed Anett Kontaveit made the last 16 for the first time by downing Czech eighth seed Petra Kvitova who saw her 13-match win streak end in a horror show of 57 unforced errors.

Kontaveit next faces US Open champion Sloane Stephens, the American 10th seed, who saw off Italy’s Camila Giorgi 4-6, 6-1, 8-6.

Italy’s Fabio Fognini made the last 16 for the second time with a 6-3, 4-6, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 win over Britain’s last man standing Kyle Edmund.

Fognini joins compatriot Marco Cecchinato in the fourth round, the first time that more than one Italian has made the last 16 since 1976.

Meanwhile in men’s doubles, Rohan Bopanna and his French partner Edouard Roger-Vasselin shocked the top-seeded pair of Marcelo Melo and Lukasz Kubot to reach the quarterfinals.

The 13th seeded Indo-French team beat the Brazilian-Polish combo 6-4, 7-6(1) in one hour and 30 minutes in the third round.

It’s the third time that Bopanna has reached quarterfinal stage at Roland Garros. He had made it to the last-eight pairs in 2011 and 2016.

 

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