Mattek-Sands Upsets Li as Djokovic Wins at French OpenBob Bensch
Bethanie Mattek-Sands pulled off the biggest upset so far in the French Open women’s draw by ousting former champion Li Na as rain once again disrupted play.
Mattek-Sands beat the 2011 winner from China 5-7, 6-3, 6-2 yesterday in a second-round match stopped three times by rain at Roland Garros in Paris. No. 6 Li is the highest-seeded woman to lose so far in the clay-court Grand Slam tennis tournament.
“That’s one of the best wins of my career,” Mattek-Sands, ranked 67th by the WTA Tour, told reporters. “She’s a champion and I had to play some of my best tennis ever to beat her.”
Men’s top seed Novak Djokovic and women’s Australian Open winner Victoria Azarenka both advanced yesterday, when four rain delays caused 14 singles matches to be either suspended or postponed. It’s the second time this week that rain in the French capital has pushed matches back to the following day.
Defending champions Rafael Nadal of Spain and Maria Sharapova of Russia were forced to return today for their second-round matches. Sharapova was leading Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard 6-2, 4-2 when rain brought a final stoppage at about 9 p.m. local time. Nadal and Slovakia’s Martin Klizan never started their match after warming up.
Also today, women’s top seed Serena Williams of the U.S. and men’s No. 2 Roger Federer of Switzerland are scheduled to play third-round matches. Milos Raonic, the No. 14 seed, plays No. 23 Kevin Anderson of South Africa as he bids to become the first Canadian man to reach the round of 16 at Roland Garros.
Though Li’s quest to regain the French Open title she won two years ago was ended by the unseeded Mattek-Sands, she refused to blame the weather delays.
“A loss is a loss,” Li, 31, told reporters. “The conditions were the same for both players.”
Li became the first player from Asia to win a major singles title in Paris in 2011. Yesterday’s defeat was her earliest since being knocked out of Wimbledon last year at the same stage. She lost to Azarenka in January’s Australian Open final.
Mattek-Sands, 28, matched her best performance at the French Open of two years ago in reaching the third round.
Djokovic, a six-time Grand Slam winner seeking his first French Open title, needed just 86 minutes to beat Guido Pella of Argentina. The Serb hit 29 winners compared to 10 for Pella, and broke the Argentine’s serve seven times.
Djokovic’s victory sends him into a third-round meeting with 26th seed Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria, who beat France’s Lucas Pouille in straight sets. Dimitrov defeated Djokovic in Madrid earlier this month.
“It’s going to be a tough one for both of us,” Djokovic said. “It’s going to be very physical and all the hard work that I put into preparations for this tournament hopefully will play into my advantage and will pay off on the court.”
Third-seeded Azarenka of Belarus defeated Germany’s Annika Beck 6-4, 6-3.
“I think it was very hard conditions in terms of waiting and there is so much on, off, on, off,” Azarenka told reporters. “But it’s the same for everybody. So it was just a matter of being patient.”
Women’s seventh-seeded Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic, No. 9 Sam Stosur of Australia, No. 17 Sloane Stephens of the U.S., No. 18 Jelena Jankovic of Serbia and No. 31 Alize Cornet of France all won in straight sets. No. 16 Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia lost to New Zealand’s Marina Erakovic in three sets.
No. 13 Kei Nishikori of Japan, No. 24 Benoit Paire of France and No. 27 Fabio Fognini of Italy won in the men’s draw, where only seven of the 16 scheduled matches were completed. Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber advanced in a walkover after Taiwan’s Lu Yen-hsun pulled out with a right ankle injury, while Romanian Victor Hanescu moved on when Russia’s Dmitry Tursunov retired.
A back injury to Venus Williams forced her and sister Serena to withdraw from the women’s doubles competition before their first-round match. Venus Williams lost in the opening round of singles to Poland’s Urszula Radwanska five days ago.