Murray, Venus and Serena out in Paris
Andy and the Williams sisters were the high-profile casualties on day six at Roland Garros, while Ivanovic and Nadal progress
Andy Murray’s impressive run at the French Open ended on Thursday as he lost in four sets to Spain’s Nicolas Almagro.
Despite Murray failing in his goal of reaching the second week he can take many positives from his 6-3, 6-7 (3-7), 6-3, 7-5 defeat against an accomplished clay court performer.
The British No.1 and world No.12 has showed he is developing his game on the surface and will only get better with each year he returns to the Paris slam.
The draw appeared to open up for Ana Ivanovic on day 5 of the French Open. As the world No.2 was battling her way to a 6-4, 6-1 victory against Danish teenager Caroline Wozniacki, the fifth seed and former champion Serena Williams crashed out of the tournament 6-4, 6-4 to No.27 seed Katarina Srebotnik.
“I just felt like I missed a lot of easy shots and a lot of key points that I felt like could have turned the match around. I wasn’t able to capitalise on a lot of that,” she said.
Williams exit, along with the retirements of Justine Henin and Anastasia Myskina, means that there will be a new womens French Open champion next Saturday. Srebotnik, meanwhile, will face either Patty Schnyder or home favourite Emilie Loit in the next round.
Older sister Venus wasn’t far behind, losing 7-5 6-3 to Flavia Penetta – and just like Serena, the American’s unforced errors handed victory to an unfancied opponent who kept the ball in court. The No.8 seed was broken four times in the first set, and Penetta broke at the beginning and end of the second.
Top seed Maria Sharapova continues to stutter through her early rounds, taken to three sets for the second time.
The Russian, looking to complete a career grand slam, was forced to go the distance having relinquished her overnight one-set lead against American qualifier Bethanie Mattek. But in spite of an inconsistent display, she eventually won through 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 in a little over two hours.
“I’m not a clay court specialist that’s going to stand 10 feet behind the baseline and retrieve balls back,” said Sharapova.
“I’m going to stick to my guns and do what I do best. I’m also going to play patiently if I want to win matches, especially against physically challenging players that hit 10 balls back.
In contrast, the reigning mens champion blitzed his way towards the fourth round and is looking forward to a day off.
Rafael Nadal dispatched his latest victim, Finlands Jarkko Niemenen, to make it 24 straight wins at Roland Garros. The 6-1, 6-3, 6-1 victory was over in just under two hours, but with blisters requiring treatment on-court, it appears that four straight days on court are beginning to take their toll.
“I am happy to survive. I will have a day off on Saturday and that will be very important,” the No.2 seed said afterwards. Today I was tired. I have played three matches with three sets but for two days I was in the locker room.
Fernando Verdasco will face the Spaniard in the fourth round. Elsewhere, Novak Djokovic cruised through against American wildcard Wayne Odesnik 7-5 6-4 6-2. French wildcard Jeremy Chardy contines to delight the home crowd, sinking No.30 seed Dimitri Tursunov. Michael Llodra and Ernests Gulbis also advanced and will play each other in the last 16.