World No. 1 Serena Williams reached the quarter-finals of the French Open for the first time since 2010 with an easy 6-1, 6-3 win over top-ranked doubles player Roberta Vinci yesterday.
It was Williams’ 28th straight victory and underlined her title potential as her superior power overwhelmed her Italian challenger.
She coped better with the blustery conditions on Philippe Chatrier Court and broke three times to take the first set.
Vinci, who has won three Grand Slam doubles titles with last year’s French Open finalist Sara Errani, tried to move her opponent round the court to compensate for her lack of weapons, and put up a better fight in the second set.
However, on the crucial points, she came up short and succumbed in 1 hour, 10 minutes.
Williams, who won her only Roland Garros title in 2002, will face another former champion Svetlana Kuznetsova in the last eight.
In yesterday’s men’s games, Spain’s David Ferrer cut Kevin Anderson down to size to reach the French Open quarter-finals, outclassing the towering South African to win 6-3, 6-1, 6-1.
The fourth seed had reached the last 16 without dropping a set for the third straight year and Anderson never looked like worrying the dynamo in a one-sided contest.
Ferrer, a semi-finalist last year, gifted Anderson only 11 unforced errors in an immaculate performance.
Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic were supposed to be the French Open bill-toppers at Roland Garros on Saturday, but their thunder was firmly stolen by events away from the center court.
The defending champion Spaniard and top-seeded Serbian both won comfortably in straight sets.
Nadal endured another slow start, but moved through the gears to defeat Italian Fabio Fognini 7-6 (7/5), 6-4, 6-4 and qualify for the last 16.
Following him on the Philippe Chatrier center court, Djokovic comfortably defused the challenge of rising Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov to win 6-2, 6-2, 6-3, although he needed treatment to a right arm injury near the end of the match.
Little drama and few thrills then for a packed center court crowd enjoying some fine sunshine after days of cold and rain.
All the excitement came out on the lesser courts with, in particular, a pulsating third-round match on Court 1, where Tommy Haas needed 13 match points before seeing off the challenge of the marathon man of tennis, John Isner.
The veteran German squandered 12 match points in the fourth set, before finally converting on what turned out to be a lucky 13th occasion for a 7-5, 7-6 (7/4), 4-6, 6-7 (10/12), 10-8 win.
Haas, who has enjoyed a sudden new lease of life this year at the age of 35, appeared to be headed for a straightforward win after taking the first two sets.
However, all that suddenly changed after the giant Isner won the third.
Haas was on top again in the fourth set, but each time he brought up match point, Isner came up with an answer, leaving the German to hurl his racket in abject frustration.
Isner had an early break in the decider, but Haas got back on level terms, fending off a match point against him in the process, and with no tie-breaker in operation in the final set, thoughts turned to what happened on the grass of Wimbledon three years ago.
The tie got to 8-8 when finally Haas made the breakthrough with Isner netting a volley to drop serve.
The 12th seed then served out for the win, clinching a place in the last 16 when Isner hit a backhand return wide.