PARIS, Jun 2: Last year’s finalists Francesca Schiavone and Li Na headed in opposite directions at the French Open today when the Italian was knocked out in the third round and the Chinese fought her way through to the last 16 with a tough win.
Schiavone, the Roland Garros winner in 2010 and runner-up to Li last year, was unlucky to run into battling American Varvara Lepchenko for the second time in a month.
Lepchenko, who beat the world number 12 on Madrid’s new blue clay four weeks ago, struck again, defeating Schiavone 3-6 6-3 8-6 in the midday sun on Court One.
Seventh seed Li had to fight hard against world number 36 Christina McHale of the United States before winning 3-6 6-2 6-1 and setting up a fourth-round match against Kazakh qualifier Yaroslava Schedova.
On a hot day at Roland Garros, Russian Mikhail Youzhny melted hearts when he scrawled the word ‘SORRY!’ in the clay with the toe of his shoe after winning only six points in the first eight games of a three-set thrashing by Spanish sixth seed David Ferrer.
‘I just wanted to say sorry to the fans because they came to see a beautiful match but I simply could not give them that,’ Youzhny told Russian reporters after the 6-0 6-2 6-2 defeat.
Li struggled with her serve at the start and blamed herself for being too passive.
‘In the first set I was always following what she did, feeling like she was the champion on the court,’ Li told a news conference. ‘She is a very dangerous player; I was happy I could win… because I had more experience.’ Czech fourth seed Petra Kvitova, theWimbledonchampion, had hoped to get a swift win on the Philippe Chatrier court after taking the first set against Nina Bratchikova in 28 minutes.
The Russian upped her game however, and Kvitova needed a third set to win 6-2 4-6 6-1 and go through to a meeting with Lepchenko.
Uzbekistan-born Lepchenko was delighted to reach the fourth round of a grand-slam event for the first time. ‘I was fighting all the way to the end, I was trying to stay with Francesca the whole time,’ she told a news conference.
‘She played amazing and it is her court and I knew that she was not going to give it away for free,’ added the left-hander, who has risen from 128 at the start of the year to 63 in the rankings. ‘I had to work really hard, and I did.’ Schiavone, who was on court for more than three hours with the temperature rising to 29 degrees Celsius, said she had been happy overall with the way she played.
The Italian added, however: ‘I had my chances, I simply did not take them.’
Kvitova fights past battling Russian Bratchikova
Fourth seed Petra Kvitova moved into the French Open fourth round with a 6-2 4-6 6-1 victory over Russian Nina Bratchikova today, but the Czech was forced to toil in the piercing Parisian sunshine.
Peppering the baseline with a series of snappy and accurate groundstrokes, the physically imposing Kvitova had looked to be on course for a smooth passage into the next round when she claimed the first set in just 28 minutes.
The Russian, however, upped her intensity in the second, pouncing on Kvitova’s increasingly frequent errors and breaking twice for a 5-1 lead.
The Czech, who has never been past the fourth round at Roland Garros, regained the momentum at the end of the set, breaking back before Bratchikova closed it out to force the match into a decider.
Having looked short on ideas at the start of the second, Kvitova swarmed all over the Russian to close out the encounter with a double break.
‘I started well, I was very aggressive and I knew what I had to play,’ Kvitova told reporters.
‘In the second set… she played much better than first.
‘She had a better serve, and it was tough to return. She had pressure from the first shot that she played.
‘So I was running from side to side and it’s not my game. So I had to change and be aggressive and push her back a little bit.
‘I have to say that she played very well.’ She will now play the Varvara Lepchenko of theUnited Stateswho came through a pulsating three-set encounter against 2010 champion Francesca Schiavone.
Former champion Schiavone knocked out by Lepchenko again
Former champion Francesca Schiavone made a third-round exit from the French Open today when she was beaten, for the second time in a month, by American left-hander Varvara Lepchenko.
Lepchenko, ranked 63rd in the world, beat the 2010 winner and 2011 runner-up 3-6 6-3 8-6 in a match full of long rallies in themiddaysun on Court One, where the temperature reached 29 degrees Celsius.
Italian Schiavone, the 14th seed, lost in the first round to the Uzbekistan-born Lepchenko on Madrid’s blue clay last month, and said before today’s game that she found playing left-handers troublesome.
After three exchanges of break in the third set, Lepchenko broke again to go 7-6 up and then saved four break points before smashing a winner on match point. She will now play fourth-seeded Czech Petra Kvitova. (Reuters)