French Open Round-up: Rafael Nadal withdraws; Petra Kvitova shocked
- The Spaniard was scheduled to play his third round match against Marcel Granollers on Saturday.
A pall of gloom descended on the 2016 French Open on Friday as the claycourt Major lost its nine-time champion Rafael Nadal to a left wrist injury. The fourth seed was due to play his third round match on Saturday against his compatriot and World No. 56 Marcel Granollers, who now gets a walkover into the Round of 16.
The former World No. 1 had been battling the injury for a couple of weeks now – since the Mutua Madrid Open where he reached the semi-finals. But his problem worsened since Thursday night where an MRI revealed that it would not be safe to continue playing with his wrist tendon looking so vulnerable.
With Nadal’s withdrawal, the tournament has now lost two of its mega stars as the 2009 winner Roger Federer too pulled out right before the start because of lack of preparation owing to a back injury.
Petra Kvitova loss the other big talking point
On the tennis court, the shock came from the women’s draw where two-time Wimbledon champion and 10th seed Petra Kvitova was sent packing 0-6, 7-6(3), 0-6 by the 108th ranked Shelby Rogers. The American rode on her brilliant serve and huge forehands to unsettle the former French Open semi-finalist en route to reaching the fourth round of a Major for the first time in her career.
Joining Kvitova on the sidelines was her own countrywoman – the 2015 finalist Lucie Safarova, who bowed out with a 3-6, 7-6(0), 5-7 loss to the 2010 runner-up Samantha Stosur. For the 32-year-old Australian, the victory was of huge significance as it is just her fourth win over the Czech in 15 meetings.
Two of the other top contenders also had tough days at the office but they managed to avert the upset bug. Second seed Agnieszka Radwanska had a terrific start to her third round clash with the 30th seed Barbora Strycova. The Pole flew away to a set and a 3-0 lead before being grounded by the veteran Czech, who managed to take the second set in a tie-break.
In a topsy-turvy decider, the 2013 quarter-finalist broke her opponent four times to take the 6-2, 6-7(6), 6-2 win.
The 2014 runner-up Simona Halep faced a near similar scenario when she found herself a set down against the 18-year-old Naomi Osaka of Japan. But the Romanian fought back and even after seeing her break of serve being wiped out in the decider, she calmly held on for a 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 victory.
Fourth seed Garbine Muguruza had the easiest day out of all the top women as she cruised to a 6-3, 6-0 win over Belgium’s Yanina Wickmayer. 2009 champion Svetlana Kuznetsova too had a quick outing on Day 6 as she prevailed 6-1, 6-4 over her compatriot Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
However, the 19th seed Sloane Stephens became a major casualty in a later match as she slumped to a 2-6, 1-6 defeat to former Wimbledon semi-finalist Tsvetana Pironkova.
Murray’s first straight-sets win, Nishikori wins in five sets
After enduring two consecutive five-setters in his initial couple of rounds, second seed Andy Murray was surely yearning for a more comfortable passage into the Round of 16. His wishes were fulfilled by the 27th seed Ivo Karlovic, who fell to a 1-6, 4-6, 6(3)-7 loss at the hands of the Briton.
The 29-year-old nullified the gigantic serve of the 37-year-old Croat and earned three breaks of serve for his fastest victory in Paris so far this year.
In a reversal of fortunes, the fifth seed Kei Nishikori was involved in a five-setter for the first time at the 2016 Round Garros after enjoying breezy outings the last few days. The Japanese squandered a two-set lead and let the experienced Fernando Verdasco come back to enforce a deciding fifth set.
Ultimately, the higher-ranked player prevailed 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 2-6, 6-4.
Defending champion Stan Wawrinka appears to be gathering momentum as he registered a 6-4, 6-3, 7-5 win over local hope Jeremy Chardy.
But the French crowd was not denied in another match where the ninth seed Richard Gasquet dismissed the rising Australian Nick Kyrgios, 6-2, 7-6(7), 6-2.