Nadal, Federer advance; Pliskova knocked out

Nadal, Federer advance; Pliskova knocked out

Nadal, Federer advance; Pliskova knocked out

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S.Rajesh *


Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal set a new record for most round of 16 appearances at Roland Garros by reaching the fourth round for a record 14th time overtaking Budge Patty who had 13 appearances. Federer beat Casper Ruud in straight sets 6-3, 6-1, 7-6(8) after saving a set point in the third set tiebreak while Nadal got past 27th seed David Goffin 6-1, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3. Second seed Karolina Pliskova was knocked out by 31st seed Petra Martic 6-3, 6-3.

Federer became the first person to play 400 matches at Grand Slam level when he faced Casper Ruud in the fourth round and he won the first set 6-3 with two breaks of serve and then proceeded to win nine games in a row from 2-3 in the first set to lead 5-0 in the second set. In the third set, the Norwegian got an early break but was unable to hold on to the lead.

The third set eventually went to a tie breaker where Federer had the upper hand and reached two match points at 6-4. But Ruud showed good nerves to save both of those and had a set point of his own which Federer saved and then capitalized on a double fault from Ruud to win the match in straight sets. Third seed Federer will next take on Leonardo Mayer in the fourth round after the Argentine beat French player Nicolas Mahut.

Before the match, Federer said that he probably knew more about Casper’s father and coach, Christian Ruud, who played alongside Federer in three Roland Garros tournaments from 1999-2001, than he did about Casper. After the match Federer praised his opponent and was happy with completing 400 matches. “”It’s true I played many matches in Grand Slam tournaments, and it’s even more pleasant to do this in Roland Garros, because I have a lot of records, milestones from Wimbledon or the US Open. Federer also praised his young opponent. “I like a lot in his game. Today I saw the clay courter. But I’m sure he’s also got the hard court game in him. I think he’s going to be Top 50, Top 20, hopefully soon.”

Defending champ Nadal started off very strong against Goffin playing some of his best tennis of the tournament and raced to a 5-0 lead. The Spanish second seed had chances to deliver a bagel set but Goffin held on to force Nadal to serve for the set. The 11 time winner held serve with ease to close out the set 6-1 and looked set for a comfortable straight set win when he got an early break in the second set to lead 2-0. At that stage however, Nadal appeared to relax a little and played more passive allowing Goffin to raise his level and produce some terrific forehands. There were some good rallies but Nadal broke again to lead two sets to love.

In the third set, Nadal had two break points in Goffin’s opening service game but a bad return combined with a stroke of luck for Goffin helped him to hold serve. The Belgian started controlling the rallies hitting his ground strokes with more authority and also pulled off some canny drop shots keeping the Spaniard guessing. At 4-4, Goffin was able to hit some terrific forehands with more pace and Nadal’s serve was broken for the first time in the match. Goffin served out the set easily. In the fourth set, Nadal started playing with more urgency and his aggression paid off with a break of serve as shadows crept across Court Philippe Chatrier. There were some close games which went to deuce but the lone break proved sufficient for Nadal to win the set and complete a hard fought win 6-1, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 in two hours and 49 minutes.

Nadal was happy with his play. “The first set-and-a-half was really fantastic, incredible. It’s difficult to play so well. I did everything perfectly. Serving. Almost all the time I was attacking. I was controlling the direction, the height of the ball, the width, the length of the ball.”  He will next face Juan Ignacio Londero who beat Frenchman Corentin Moutet. Seventh seed Kei Nishikori overcame Laslo Djere in five sets and will face France’s Benoit Paire next.

In a late match, Stefanos Tsitsipas broke Filip Krajinovic’s serve in fading light when the Serb was serving for the third set. This enabled the Greek to get back on serve in the third set after having won the first two sets. Stan Wawrinka’s match with Grigor Dimitrov was also suspended due to poor light after the Swiss player had won both of the first two sets in tiebreaks.

Pliskova was considered a strong favourite for the French Open after winning the Rome title but she fell in straight sets to Martic who had more match play and experience on clay courts which proved to be the difference between the two players. Spain’s Garbine Muguruza is at home on the clay courts and she beat ninth seed Elina Svitolina 6-3, 6-3 to reach the fourth round for the sixth year in a row. Anastasija Sevastova from Latvia won a marathon 3hr 18 minute match against No.20 seed Elise Mertens after saving five match points. Sloane Stephens missed 4 match points in the second set but rebounded in the third set to beat Polona Hercog 6-3, 5-7, 6-4. In matches that were carried over 23rd seed Donna Vekic beat 15th seed Belinda Bencic while Martin Klizan ousted French 22nd seed Lucas Pouille 9-7 in the fifth.

In doubles, Leander Paes became the oldest male player to win a men’s doubles match at Roland Garros when he partnered with Paire to beat Klizan and Dominic Inglot 6-4, 6-4. But Divij Sharan and Marcelo Demoliner went out to 8th seeds Henri Kontinen and John Peers 6-3, 6-4.

Senthil Trinitymirror

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