A fresh new day at Roland Garros and a lot of highlights! Another contender departed the tournament and the day ended with a tremendous match out on the Simonne Mathieu Court. Read on for Friday’s diary from Paris where the focus was on the third rounders from the bottom half of the draw. Looking forward to Saturday’s order of play and having a clear day to watch it all.
Day 6️⃣ Highlights
(31) Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova d. (3) Aryna Sabalenka, 6-4 2-6 6-0
Another top seed bites the dust… step forward, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, a well known top 10 slayer who recorded the 36th (!) top ten win of her career to oust one of the favourites, Aryna Sabalenka. I only caught the third set which was rather brief. Pavs returned from a medical time-out between the second and third sets for a upper leg/back/hip injury and was rather inspired. It was a bit of a car-crash from Sabalenka who had openings in two of Pavs’s service games but gave away cheap errors on return when presented with second serves. Sabalenka landed only 38% of first serves in play in the decider.
I really feel for Sabalenka. She’s going to keep getting all those “well you haven’t made a Slam QF” questions and it must be really hard to deal with. While I did have Sabalenka winning this match and I thought she’d break new ground in making the quarters, I did have my doubts about her being one of the favourites because Stuttgart and Madrid, where she thrived, are very different conditions to the clay in Paris.
Tough loss but I still believe Sabalenka will have a deep run at one of the two remaining Slams this year. Lovely to see Pavs pick up where she left off from in Madrid. I remember vividly her run to the quarters in Paris in 2013 and an absolute rollercoaster match with Schiavone. Would be uplifting to see Pavs go deeper in this draw.
(15) Victoria Azarenka d. (23) Madison Keys, 6-2 6-2
Both players were in a good mood at the coin toss and both started in fine form in what was a high-quality start to this match. From 2-2 in the first set, it was completely one-way traffic as Azarenka delivered a rock-solid display to reach the second week of the French Open for the first time since 2013.
Once again, Azarenka demonstrated why she is one of the best returners on tour. Keys won just 37% of points behind her second serve. Azarenka’s serve, which is liable to break down, held up for the entirety. The error count for Keys was obviously an issue. I think a lot of those were forced by Azarenka who locked into relentless mode. Azarenka forced Keys to go for more. There was a scattering of great points from Keys where she built the points patiently before firing away winners. They were few and far between though with the backhand all too often faltering.
Really didn’t expect this from Vika having played so few matches on clay. A pleasant surprise!
(7) Serena Williams d. Danielle Collins, 6-4 6-4
Much like Vika, Serena has suddenly become one to watch in this wide open bottom half. This was a supremely clutch display to beat a very dangerous opponent in Danielle Collins. Serena was down *0-30 in both sets when trying to close out the sets. Both times, Serena reeled off four straight points. Serena rallied from 1-4 down in the second set to win the last five games.
As expected, it was a high-quality, intense match. Both went after each other’s second serves and the difference really was that Serena landed a higher percentage of first serves in play (59% to 47%). I hope that Collins can stay healthy and get her ranking a bit higher to where it belongs because she should be seeded at the Slams IMO.
(33) Paula Badosa d. Ana Bogdan, 2-6 7-6(4) 6-4
The best matches are sometimes the ones where you least expect it. I think this was arguably the match of the tournament so far! A brilliant, brilliant match with rallies to die for. I found myself being puzzled at how Bogdan is ranked just 102 in the world because she played so, so well. Badosa saved a match point in the sensational second set and hit some fantastic forehands with her back against the wall as she barely held on at the end.
A fine win for Badosa who had emerged as one of the favourites to win the tournament. That is a lot to handle for a player who suddenly springboarded into contention during this clay court season. Badosa extends her winning streak to eight and surely adds to her belt of confidence. Saving match points and winning is a big deal!
Best of the rest 🎾
Prior to this French Open, Tamara Zidansek had never won a main draw match at the French Open. Now she’s got three of them! Zidansek posted her best ever result at a Slam, rallying from a set and a break down to beat Katerina Siniakova, 0-6 7-6(5) 6-2.
Another player breaking new ground at a Slam is Elena Rybakina. The 21-year-old Kazakh is into the second week of a Slam for the first time after a 6-1 6-4 win over Elena Vesnina.
Sorana Cirstea‘s wonderful run on clay this year continued as she eased past Daria Kasatkina, 6-3 6-2, to reach the second week of the French Open for the first time since her 2009 break-out run!
Marketa Vondrousova had won just one match on clay heading into this year’s French Open. Now she’s back into the last 16 of the French Open after beating Polona Hercog, 6-3 6-3.
Favourite snap 📸
A Serena roar in shots.
Recommended media 📺
There were a few mentions of Timea in the comments recently – here’s an update!
Day 7 watchlist 📺
(13) Jen Brady vs. (24) Coco Gauff
(18) Karolina Muchova vs. Sloane Stephens
(5) Elina Svitolina vs. Barbora Krejcikova
(14) Elise Mertens vs. (17) Maria Sakkari