Top seeds Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova yesterday crashed out of the French Open as they suffered only their second defeat of the season on the clay courts in Paris.
The Taiwanese-Czech duo were stunned 6-4, 7-5 by 14th seeds Alexa Guarachi of Chile and Desirae Krawczyk of the US in 1 hour, 25 minutes in the third round of the women’s doubles on Court 14 at Roland Garros.
The reigning Wimbledon champions won only 52 percent of points on their first serve, while their opponents won 64 percent and converted five of six break points, as they denied Hsieh and Strycova a shot at a second Grand Slam title in the French capital.
It was only the Taiwanese-Czech pairing’s second loss of the season, following a 6-2, 6-1 defeat to Hungarian-French reigning French Open champions Timea Babos and Kristina Mladenovic in the final of the Australian Open before the COVID-19 suspension.
They had not dropped a set since resuming in Rome last month and collecting their fourth title of the season.
In women’s singles on Saturday, Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur became the first Arab woman to make the last 16 with a 7-6 (9/7), 2-6, 6-3 win over Belarusian eighth seed Aryna Sabalenka.
Jabeur, seeded 30, who made the quarter-finals at the Australian Open in January, next faces 57th-ranked American Danielle Collins who stunned 2016 champion and 11th seed Garbine Muguruza 7-5, 2-6, 6-4.
“The people in Tunisia are really encouraging me a lot. Media, I’m not sure,” Jabeur said.
American fourth seed and Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin eased through with a 6-2, 6-0 defeat of Romanian qualifier Irina Bara, while Zhang Shuai defeated French wildcard, and world number 357, Clara Burel 7-6 (7/2), 7-5 to become the first Chinese woman to reach the last 16 since former champion Li Na in 2012.
Spain’s Paula Badosa, ranked at 87, wept in her courtside chair as she reached the round of 16 at a Slam for the first time.
The 2015 junior champion, who put out former US Open winner Sloane Stephens in the last round, defeated 2017 champion in Paris Jelena Ostapenko 6-4, 6-3. Ostapenko was undone by 43 unforced errors and 10 double faults.
In the men’s singles on Saturday, Novak Djokovic demolished Colombian lucky loser Daniel Galan to reach the last 16 for a record-equaling 11th successive year, as unheralded Daniel Altmaier struck another blow for the underdogs.
World No. 1 Djokovic swept past 153rd-ranked Galan 6-0, 6-3, 6-2, his most challenging moment coming when he helped ground staff lay more clay on the surface of Court Philippe Chatrier after rain had made it treacherous.
“I played pretty solid today, I’m happy about that,” said Djokovic, the 2016 champion who is chasing an 18th Grand Slam title, after his 71st win in Paris.
The day after world No. 239 Hugo Gaston and Sebastian Korda, ranked at 213, made the last 16, German qualifier Altmaier kept the sport’s outsiders in the headlines.
The world No. 186 stunned seventh seed Matteo Berrettini of Italy 6-2, 7-6 (7/5), 6-4, becoming just the fourth man in 20 years to reach the round of 16 on his Grand Slam debut.
Victory also means an unexpected financial windfall for the 22-year-old who is guaranteed at least US$221,400 having earned US$173,600 in his entire six-year career.
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