Maria Sharapova teared up after beating Sam Stosur in straight sets to advance to the fourth round at the French Open.
The Russian, who started the defense of her title battling a cold, clenched her fists and looked up at her coach, Sven Groeneveld, after the 6-3, 6-4 win yesterday against 2011 U.S. Open champion Stosur at Roland Garros in Paris.
“This was a tough match,” five-time major winner Sharapova said in an on-court interview in between coughs. The Russian said memories from winning the French Open in 2012 and 2014 “always come back to me when I am on this court.”
Also yesterday, Roger Federer breezed into the fourth round with a straight-sets win against Damir Dzumhur, a Bosnian who was born in war-torn Sarajevo and learned to play tennis in a former morgue. Federer will next play Gael Monfils of France, who beat Uruguay’s Pablo Cuevas in five sets as dusk fell last night. Monfils has beaten Federer in the past two matches they’ve played, both on clay.
Britain’s Andy Murray is in action today against Australia’s Nick Kyrgios, while men’s top seed Novak Djokovic of Serbia plays Thanasi Kokkinakis, also of Australia. Women’s top seed Serena Williams of the U.S. meets two-time Australian Open winner Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, while defending champion Rafael Nadal of Spain plays Russia’s Andrey Kuznetsov.
Last year, Stosur almost beat Sharapova in a three-set match in the fourth round. Yesterday’s match contained six breaks of serve and 55 unforced errors as the wind swirled around the Court Philippe Chatrier, where the temperature was 16 degrees Celsius (61 Fahrenheit).
After Sharapova took the first set, Stosur handed her opponent the break for 4-3 with her fourth double fault. Sharapova won 39 percent of points on Stosur’s first serve, while the Australian managed only 24 percent.
Sharapova leads her next opponent, left-hander Lucie Safarova, 4-1 in previous matches. The Czech defeated 2013 Wimbledon finalist Sabine Lisicki of Germany, 6-3, 7-6 (7-2).
“Lefties are always tricky, and this will be my first one of the tournament,” Sharapova said.
Federer, the 2009 champion from Switzerland, beat the 88th-ranked Dzumhur, the only man from Bosnia and Herzegovina to play in a major tennis tournament, 6-4, 6-3, 6-2.
Federer, who produced 38 winners, 12 more than his opponent, was full of praise afterward.
“He moves very swiftly, he misses very few balls,” Federer told reporters. “Mentally he’s very much there during the match. He’s in the match. Even when he loses three, four points, it’s okay. He just keeps going. That’s the kind of attitude that could take you very far in tennis.”
Dzumhur was born in May 1992 in a maternity hospital close to the Zetra Olympic Hall in Sarajevo, shortly after the outbreak of the Bosnian war following the breakup of Yugoslavia. Five days after his birth, the sports arena was destroyed. For three years and eight months, Sarajevo was under siege from Serbians and the sports arena served as a morgue. Dzumhur, who acted in two movies as a child, learned to play tennis in the facility when it was rebuilt following the war.
“Everything my country went through is really tough for everybody,” Dzumhur, who studied political science at the University of Sarajevo, told reporters before the match against his childhood idol Federer. “I’m really happy I can represent my country, and the name and flag is featured in these big tournaments.”
Coached by his father, Nerfid, Dzumhur mainly competes on the second-tier Challenger circuit and has received financial support from the Grand Slam Development Fund and the International Tennis Federation. His third-round appearance tied his best Grand Slam result, at the 2014 Australian Open.
Dzumhur’s progress is a sign of the global spread of tennis, Federer said after his second round win.
“It’s nice to see tennis has reached the smaller countries,” said Federer, a 17-time major singles winner.
Ana Ivanovic of Serbia, the 2008 champion, agreed with Federer after she eased past Croatian teenager Donna Vekic 6-0, 6-3, watched from her private box by World Cup winning German soccer player Bastian Schweinsteiger.
“There are so many talents coming from the eastern bloc,” Ivanovic said in a news conference. “Speaking for my own country, ever since I was young we have been always great in sports, whether it was volleyball or water polo, basketball. We have always had talents. At the moment it’s tennis. We hope the next generation can follow up on that.”
France’s Alize Cornet reached the fourth round for the first time with a 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 win over Mirjana Lucic-Baroni.
Lucic-Baroni, a rising star on the women’s tour in the late 1990s before her career stalled because of personal problems and injuries, pulled off the biggest upset of the tournament so far when she beat Simona Halep, the third seed and runner-up last year, in the second round. Lucic-Baroni, 33, first played at Roland Garros in 1999, the same year she made the Wimbledon semifinals. She didn’t play in Paris between 2003 and 2010.
Stan Wawrinka, the Swiss No. 2, beat Steve Johnson of the U.S. 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 to leave 37th-ranked Jack Sock as the only American man left in the singles draw. Sock plays Croatian teenager Borna Coric today in his first visit to the fourth round at Roland Garros. Andre Agassi was the last American man to win the French Open title, in 1999.
Czech Tomas Berdych, the No. 4 seed, beat France’s Benoit Paire in four sets.
Kei Nishikori of Japan, who reached the U.S. Open final last year, booked a place in the last 16 without striking a ball after his opponent Benjamin Becker of Germany withdrew with an injury before the match. Nishikori, the first man from Japan to reach a major tennis final, faces unseeded Teymuraz Gabashvili of Russia in the next round.