Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams moved to the fourth round of the French Open while former top- ranked women Justine Henin and Maria Sharapova are tied at one set each after play was halted because of darkness.
Four-time champion Rafael Nadal beat Lleyton Hewitt 6-3, 6- 4, 6-3 on a cold, rainy and windswept day at Roland Garros. Former Wimbledon and U.S. Open champion Hewitt has never won a match on clay against Nadal, who now leads the Australian 6-4.
“It was difficult to play, there was a lot of wind, changing wind and at some time rain for a little bit,” Nadal said in a court-side televised interview. He added it was “always a pleasure” to play against Hewitt, who is one of his idols. “He’s an unbelievable player. He’s a great champion.”
Her second-set loss to Sharapova ends Henin’s streak of consecutive straight sets won at Roland Garros. The Belgian had won 40 consecutive sets in Paris, tying the record set by Wills Moody in 1932. Before today, Henin last dropped a set at the French Open in 2005. The former world No. 1 had made the finals of the Australian Open at the start of the season following a 20-month retirement.
Sharapova, a former world No. 1 who returned to the women’s tour over a year ago following a nine-month break during which she had shoulder surgery, struggled to find her rhythm in the first set against the Belgian, who frequently wrong-footed the Russian with disguised drop shots. Sharapova improved in the second set, which she took as Henin committed her 20th error.
Nadal of Spain is trying to become only the second man in history, after Bjorn Borg, to win five or more French Open championships. The Swede is the only man to have won six titles on the Parisian clay courts. Borg’s countryman Robin Soderling last year handed Nadal his first ever loss at Roland Garros, beating him in the fourth round.
Earlier, Serena Williams had eased past Pavlyuchenkova in the first set, before losing five games in a row in the second. She recovered after taking medicine and having her pulse and temperature taken on court by a doctor.
“He said that there’s a bug that’s going out, how players start feeling tired and the next day they get sick,” Williams said in a news conference. “I’ve been loading up on vitamins. I should be OK. I hope.”
Williams has won the French only once, when she beat her sister Venus in 2002, making it her least-successful Grand Slam event. She won her 12th major, tying the record of her mentor Billie Jean King, by winning the Australian Open at the beginning of the season. After Australia, Williams didn’t play a match until the first week of Rome because of a knee injury.
Her third-round win means Williams will remain No. 1 in the world when the WTA Tour rankings will be published the day after Roland Garros ends.
She will next play Shahar Peer of Israel, who beat French No. 13 seed Marion Bartoli 7-6 (9-7), 6-2. Former top-ten player Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia defeated U.S. Open semi-finalist Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium 7-5, 6-3. Fourth-seeded Jelena Jankovic of Serbia moved to the fourth round by beating Ukraine’s Alona Bondarenko 6-4, 7-6 (7-3). Samantha Stosur of Australia, last year’s semifinalist, beat Simona Halep of Romania 7-5, 6-1.
On Court Suzanne Lenglen, sixth-seeded Andy Roddick lost his third-round match 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 to 114th-ranked qualifier Teimuraz Gabashvili of Russia. Robby Ginepri beat 2003 French Open champion Juan Carlos Ferrero of Spain 7-5, 6-3, 3-6, 2-6, 6-4. Ginepri is the only American man through to the fourth round, where he’ll face third-seeded Novak Djokovic. The Serb earlier today defeated Romania’s No. 31 Victor Hanescu 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2.
Roddick, a losing finalist at Wimbledon last year, had also struggled in his previous two rounds, needing four sets in both matches.
Roddick last year made it to the fourth round at the French Open, his best performance in eight visits to the clay-court Grand Slam. The last American man to have won a major, at the 2003 U.S. Open, Roddick has had most of his success on the faster hard and grass courts.
“I fought through a couple of matches that were a little dicey,” Roddick said. “Today I got outplayed from the first ball. It was a tough matchup for me in these conditions. He has pretty big swings and gets good length on the ball.”
Austrian Juergen Melzer, the 22nd seed, upset the ninth seed, David Ferrer of Spain, 6-4, 6-0, 7-6 (7-1). Fernando Verdasco, considered one of the outsiders for the title in Paris after winning a clay-court event in Barcelona, needed five sets to overcome Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber, 2-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-7 (1-7), 6-4.
Russia’s Nadia Petrova ousted France’s Aravane Rezai 6-7 (2- 7), 6-4, 10-8. Their match had resumed at 7-7 in the third set, after both fended off three match points before play was suspended yesterday because of darkness. Petrova’s win means there are no more Frenchwomen left in the singles draw.
The men’s doubles tournament started with an upset. Brazilian pair Marcelo Melo and Bruno Soares beat top seeds Bob and Mike Bryan 6-3 7-6 (8-6).
The Bryan brothers are one tournament win away from breaking the all-time professional career men’s record for team doubles titles. They share the mark of 61 with retired Australians Mark Woodforde and Todd Woodbridge.