AFP Paris, France
Twelve-time champion Rafael Nadal and women’s top seed Simona Halep eased into the third round even as Serena Williams suffered another blow in her bid for a 24th Grand Slam title as the American withdrew from the French Open yesterday with an Achilles injury.
The 39-year-old Williams, a three-time winner at Roland Garros, pulled out ahead of her second round match against Tsvetana Pironkova citing the injury that prompted her to skip the Rome tune-up event.
Nadal looked in ominous form as he stepped up his pursuit of Roger Federer’s 20 major titles with a crushing win over 236th-ranked American Mackenzie McDonald.
The Spaniard batted aside McDonald 6-1, 6-0, 6-3 and will meet Stefano Travaglia of Italy for a spot in the last 16.
“Today was not that cold, so that’s the main thing. Not that cold, the conditions are not that bad,” said Nadal, who has described the defence of his title at a tournament postponed four months by the coronavirus pandemic as his toughest yet.
“When you win like today it’s not bad, it means you don’t make many mistakes and manage to make a difference,” he added.
The 34-year-old needs one more major to pull level with long-time rival Federer and owns an astonishing 95-2 record in Paris going back to his triumph on debut in 2005.
Women’s favourite and 2018 champion Simona Halep beat compatriot Irina-Camelia Begu 6-3, 6-4 to extend her career-best winning streak to 16 matches.
However, her next opponent is American 25th seed Amanda Anisimova, the teenager who dumped Halep out in straight sets in last year’s quarter-finals.
“I remember the match from last year, I remember also that I didn’t play what I wanted, so I will do some changes and I will just try to play better and to take my chance,” said Halep.
US Open champion Dominic Thiem swept into the third round with a 6-1, 6-3, 7-6 (6) victory over American qualifier Jack Sock, saving three set points to close out the match.
The Austrian third seed will play Norway’s Casper Ruud for a place in the last 16.
“I’m very happy with my game in the first two rounds. It was not an easy draw at all and I’m very happy not to drop a set,” said Thiem, who defeated 2014 US Open winner Marin Cilic in round one.
Sixth seed Alexander Zverev was taken the distance by home hope Pierre-Hugues Herbert but advanced 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (5), 4-6, 6-4.
Stan Wawrinka, the 2015 French Open winner, followed up his demolition of Andy Murray with a 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-1 defeat of Germany’s Dominik Koepfer.
Victoria Azarenka’s unhappy French Open campaign ended yesterday as the former world number one was beaten 6-2 6-2 by Slovakia’s Anna Karolina Schmiedlova in the second round.
Italian qualifier Martina Trevisan fought back from a set down to beat Coco Gauff of the US 4-6, 6-2, 7-5.
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