French Open 2018, Day 7 Round-up: Rafael Nadal breezes through; Maria Sharapova-Serena Williams set up dream clash
Under the puffy clouds on Day 7 at Roland Garros, Rafael Nadal brushed aside home favourite Richard Gasquet and continued his bid for an 11th French Open title. In women's singles, both Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams won their respective matches to set up a mouth-watering French Open showdown.
Here is a round-up of all the matches involving the top stars on Saturday:
Nadal thrashes Gasquet
Defending champion Nadal breezed into the Round of 16 at Roland Garros by beating home hopeful and childhood friend Gasquet 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 in just one hour, 58 minutes on Philippe-Chatrier on Saturday. He will now face unseeded German Maximilian Marterer for a place in the last 8.
Nadal showed little mercy as he raced to a 5-0 lead in the first set but Gasquet rallied back to win three games. However, the late charge was never going to be enough with the World No. 1, who is chasing a record 11th title, responding in his usual clinical way.
In the second and third sets as well, the Spaniard, who turns 32 on Sunday, surged ahead to 4-0 leads before Gasquet could finally hold his serve. Nevertheless, Nadal clinched victory on his first match point as his opponent chopped a backhand long.
Del Potro to meet Isner, Goffin claims hard-fought win
Fifth seed Juan Martin Del Potro eased into the fourth round by beating No. 31 Albert Ramos-Vinolas 7-5, 6-4, 6-1. The Argentine is looking in prime form as he eyes a potential semifinal showdown with Nadal. However, he will face a stiff challenge in the last 16 when he faces John Isner.
Ninth-seeded Isner is the last American standing in the men's singles draw. On Saturday, he beat Pierre-Hugues Herbert, the last Frenchman in the fray, 7-6 (1), 6-4, 7-6 (4). Isner vs Del Potro promises to be a hard-hitting match, with both possessing big serves and booming forehands.
Meanwhile, David Goffin kept his calm against a partisan French crowd as he saved four match points on his way to beating Gael Monfils of France 6-7 (6), 6-3, 4-6, 7-5, 6-3. There were no major upsets in the men's draw with Marin Cilic, Kevin Anderson and Diego Schwartzman all advancing.
Sharapova-Serena set to reignite rivalry
While Russian star Maria Sharapova easily handled the big serve of No. 6-seeded Karolina Pliskova on her way to overwhelming the latter 6-2, 6-1, Serena Williams too produced the best performance of her Grand Slam comeback as she beat 11th-seeded Julia Goerges of Germany 6-3, 6-4.
In the process, the two set up the most anticipated round of 16 clash at this year's French Open. Sharapova and Serena have met 21 times in all and the American leads the head-to-head record at a staggering 19-2. In fact, the last time Serena was beaten by Sharapova was back in 2004.
Nevertheless, the 36-year-old, who is competing in a major tournament for the first time in 16 months, believes that Sharapova is the favourite heading into the match. On her part, Sharapova did go on to concede, “I think there is a lot of things in her game that she’s done much better than I have... Numbers don’t lie.”
Halep, Muguruza eases through
Top seed Simona Halep defeated Andrea Petkovic of Germany 7-5, 6-0 to advance to the last 16. The Romanian was in clinical form against an opponent to whom she has never lost. She next plays 16th-seeded Elise Mertens of Belgium who won 6-3, 6-1 against No. 24 Daria Gavrilova.
Third seed Garbine Muguruza of Spain saw off Australia's Samantha Stosur 6-0, 6-2 to advance to the fourth round on Saturday. The 2016 champion at Roland Garros lost her serve just once in the fourth game of the second set when she served a double fault. However, she then rattled off the next four games to clinch the match.
Sloane Stephens also went through to the fourth round when she beat Camila Giorgi of Italy 4-6, 6-1, 8-6. Angelique Kerber held off a gritty Kiki Bertens as she went on to win 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (7/4).