China’s lightning-quick Li Na wrapped up a third-round French Open victory over Romanian Sorana Cirstea yesterday before most of the fans had arrived on a jam-packed day at Roland Garros.
Lineups were still forming on the streets when sixth seed Li, the Australian Open runner-up, sealed a confident 6-2, 6-2 win against Suzanne Lenglen.
Over on Court Philippe Chatrier down the tree and boutique-lined way, fourth seed Victoria Azarenka of Belarus easily got the better of Italy’s Roberta Vinci with a 6-3, 6-2 win, which further highlighted her strong title credentials.
With tops seeds Caroline Wozniacki and Kim Clijsters crashing out and several players missing with injury, any woman left could realistically triumph in next Saturday’s final and Azarenka has continued her good form from the buildup events.
Meanwhile, Swiss tennis player Patty Schnyder announced her retirement, four days after losing in the first round of the French Open.
Schnyder played in 59 Grand Slam tournaments, including 52 in a row from 1997 to 2009, and her best showing was making the semi-finals at the 2004 Australian Open.
She also won 11 singles titles in her career, but had only three wins in 12 matches this season.
Schnyder, who was born in Basel, the same town as Roger Federer, compiled a 555-370 career record.
On the men’s side yesterday, world No. 4 Andy Murray limped past German Michael Berrer 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 after sustaining an ankle injury.
The Briton twisted his right ankle at the beginning of the second set, but overcame the pain and was barely tested by an innocuous opponent.
Murray gritted his teeth and prevailed when Berrer sent a forehand wide after two hours seven minutes.
He will next face Serbian 15th seed Victor Troicki, who beat Ukraine’s Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.
The other high-profile player to move on was five-times champion Rafael Nadal, who was his old merciless self as he silenced Croatian qualifier Antonio Veic 6-1, 6-3, 6-0.
The Spanish No. 1 allowed only seven points to his opponent in the opening set despite struggling on his first serve.
Nadal, who now has a 41-1 record at Roland Garros although he labored through his first two matches this year, ran into a spot of bother in the second set, conceding a couple of breaks.
However, a series of bludgeoning forehands floored world No. 227 Veic, who beat twice French Open semi-finalist Nikolay Davydenko in the previous round, in a 25-minute second set.
On Friday, Taiwan’s Chan Yung-jan and partner Monica Niculescu of Romania defeated Australian Jarmila Gajdosova and Czech Klara Zakopalova 6-0, 7-5 in the second round of women’s doubles play. In the mixed doubles first round, Elena Vesnina of Russia and Max Mirnyi of Belarus beat Taiwanese Hsieh Su-wei and her Polish partner Mariusz Fyrstenberg 6-7 (5), 6-4, 10-7.
ADDITONAL REPORTING BY STAFF WRITER