Serena and Sharapova set for French Open last-16 showdown
Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova will meet in a blockbuster fourth-round clash after their respective straight-sets wins at Roland Garros on Saturday.
With five French Open titles between them, Williams and Sharapova have looked in fine form during the first week in Paris but one will see their campaign ended in the last 16.
Williams defeated Julia Goerges 6-3 6-4 while Sharapova was even more convincing in seeing off sixth seed Karolina Pliskova 6-2 6-1.
Meanwhile, top seed and world number one Simona Halep overcame Andrea Petkovic 7-5 6-0 but Petra Kvitova's winning run on clay is over after she went down 7-6 (8-6) 7-6 (7-4) to Anett Kontaveit.
FULL THROTTLE ONLY FOR SHARAPOVA
Sharapova, a two-time champion at Roland Garros, faced the media after cruising past Pliskova and insisted she would continue to play with the "fire" that has served her so well in her career to date - an approach she sees mirrored by 10-time men's singles champion Rafael Nadal.
"I really don't know how to do it at 60, 70 per cent," she said. "It's never been my style, in a sense. I think that stubbornness maybe is great, but it's also times you need to calm down a bit. But even in training...I have only known one way and it's gotten me in a position where I am today.
"Going 60, 70 per cent hasn't done well for me. Yeah, of course I want to bring that fire. That's my game. That's kind of the aggressive aspect of it, the focused, not giving up [attitude].
"I have a lot of admiration for him [Nadal]. I have loved the spirit that he carries on with, the focus. You know, it goes back to the fire question. I think he only knows how to go at 100 per cent. That's incredibly admirable, because the older you get in this sport, the more physical it is, tougher it is on the body. We know that."
Happy from today pic.twitter.com/A4dVVCojlY— Maria Sharapova (@MariaSharapova) June 2, 2018
UNLUCKY 13 FOR KVITOVA
The eighth seed's loss to Kontaveit ended a run of 13 straight clay-court victories for the Czech, who arrived at Roland Garros on the back of titles in Prague and Madrid.
"Well, I couldn't really imagine myself playing so well on the clay," she told reporters. "So I'm very proud of myself.
"I didn't really think that I will able to do what I did, winning two titles, playing good tennis here. So, for me, it was a great clay season. And I'm pretty sad that the clay season is finishing, but, yeah, I'm pretty happy about my clay season.
"Overall it was great to be here healthy, playing my best tennis. I did a better result than the last year, so I've improved myself. But, yeah, it's been great tournament. Of course, finishing pretty early for me, but it was a great match."
Anett Kontaveit’s clay court season continues!— WTA (@WTA) June 2, 2018
Progresses to the second week of @rolandgarros with a 7-6(6), 7-6(4) win over No. 8 seed Petra Kvitova --> https://t.co/zt11fpr9kK pic.twitter.com/TSi8KgphYm
HALEP HAPPY AWAY FROM THE LIMELIGHT
As the number one seed and top-ranked player, it was something of a surprise to see Halep take on Petkovic out on Court 18. But the Romanian insists the unusual surroundings - and her opponent's knee injury - were not an issue for her.
"Not surprised, but, you know, I'm here to play anywhere," she said. "I have no problems. Of course it was different, but no excuses. I just try to find myself on that court. I practiced there last week, so all good.
"I didn't think about that [Petkovic's injury]. I just tried to keep the focus there. I was happy with the performance, and I feel sorry for her that she got injured."