Serena injury denies Sharapova clash as Russians reign at Roland Garros
Contrasting circumstances saw Russian duo Daria Kasatkina and Maria Sharapova book their places in the last eight of the French Open on Monday, with the latter the beneficiary of a tournament-ending injury for Serena Williams.
Spectators at Roland Garros were denied the latest chapter in an epic rivalry as a pectoral injury prevented Williams from taking on old foe Sharapova in the fourth round.
Sharapova progressed to the quarter-finals with a walkover, but she is not the only Russian still in the draw after Kasatkina stunned world number two Caroline Wozniacki in straight sets.
Top seed Simona Halep also cruised through but Caroline Garcia's run as the last French player in the tournament came to an end.
CROWD DENIED CRUNCH CLASH
Anticipation was building for the match between Williams and Sharapova on Court Philippe Chatrier when word spread that the American would be forced to withdraw, soon confirmed in a news conference.
"I have made every sacrifice that I could, so it’s extremely disappointing," Williams said. "But I made a promise to myself that, if I’m not at least 60 per cent, 50 per cent, I shouldn’t play."
The pair last faced off at the 2016 Australian Open, with Sharapova subsequently serving a 15-month doping ban and Williams taking time out to give birth to her first child.
A tough test now lies in wait for Sharapova against Garbine Muguruza, who also saw her opponent bow out with injury. Lesia Tsurenko, struggling with a hamstring issue, retired in the first set.
While Sharapova was handed a walkover, compatriot Kasatkina had to do it the hard way against Australian Open champion Wozniacki.
Bad light had halted the pair in the second set on Sunday, but the Russian was not hindered by the stoppage and required just three more games to complete the 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 upset.
Wozniacki noted a slow, strategic approach from her opponent, with the 21-year-old admitting afterwards that her tactics were intended to disrupt the clear favourite.
"I'm trying to play a more strategic game. I'm not the biggest girl to hit balls so hard, so I have to find different ways to win," Kasatkina said.
Monday feeling pic.twitter.com/crix1v4bi0— Daria Kasatkina (@DKasatkina) June 4, 2018
HOME HOPES OVER AS HALEP HEADS THROUGH
Wozniacki denied Halep a first grand slam title in Melbourne, but the Romanian remains on course for another final with her rival out of the way.
Halep made light work of Elise Mertens, winning 6-2 6-1, and she will now face Angelique Kerber, who overcame Garcia with ease and thus ended the French involvement in both the men's and women's competition.
The defeat represents more grand slam frustration for under-pressure world number seven Garcia, whose best major result came with a run to the last eight at Roland Garros last year, but she is confident that a victory will come.
"I know that some people think I will never make it, but I'm sure I'm going to make it," she said. "One day I will make it."