Fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas on Friday was handed his first real test at this year’s French Open before he subdued big-serving American John Isner 5-7, 6-3, 7-6 (7/3), 6-1 to move into the fourth round, while Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei, Latisha Chan and Chan Hao-ching advanced in the women’s doubles.
The 22-year-old Tsitsipas, who won two titles on clay in the run-up to Roland Garros, had to endure a serving barrage in the opening set, but eventually found his stride to set up a fourth-round clash with Spanish 12th seed Pablo Carreno Busta.
“John is a big guy and I can learn a lot playing against him,” Tsitsipas said. “His serve was a big obstacle, but things started going my way in the second set. My head cleaned up a bit.”
The Greek had to work hard to hold his serve in the first set as his opponent comfortably held his own and earned his first break to go 6-5 up and bag it with his seventh ace.
Tsitsipas had a chance to break early in the second set at 2-1 and 40-0 up on Isner’s serve, but he squandered all three of his opportunities.
Isner had unsettled his opponent with a mix of drop shots, approach shots and clever volleys, but he failed to keep up that momentum when he missed out on converting a rare break point at 3-3.
Tsitsipas then fired himself up with loud screams that bounced off the empty stands on Court Philippe Chatrier.
The fifth seed earned his first break when Isner sunk a volley and Tsitsipas won the set a little later.
“The match was one pattern and it was difficult to adjust. A bit of anger, a bit of frustration and I let it all out and this woke me up, helped me to handle the future situations a bit better,” Tsitsipas said.
Both players refused to buckle in the third set and held serve to take it to tiebreak where Tsitsipas kept his composure, hit two superb backhands to earn a mini-break and nick the set when an Isner forehand sailed long.
Another backhand down the line left Isner frozen on the baseline and sent his opponent 2-0 up in the fourth.
Tsitsipas never looked back, winning the mental battle against his opponent and racing to a 6-1 victory in the fourth to move into the next round.
In the women’s singles, Serena Williams continued her quest for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title by reaching the French Open second week for the first time since 2018, while third seed Aryna Sabalenka’s surprise loss left the veteran American as the highest-ranked player in her half of the draw.
Three-time Roland Garros champion Williams came through a potentially tricky third-round tie with compatriot Danielle Collins, winning 6-4, 6-4.
She next faces Kazakh 21st seed Elena Rybakina, with a possible quarter-final against old rival Victoria Azarenka up for grabs.
“Today it was very difficult, but I played well, stayed concentrated. I’m very happy,” said Williams, who fought back from 1-4 down in the second set.
World number four Sabalenka, who was the highest-seeded women’s player still in the tournament at the start of the day, was dumped out by Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-4, 2-6, 6-0.
In the women’s doubles, Hsieh and partner Elise Mertens of Belgium on Friday beat Russian Anastasia Potapova and Amanda Anisimova of the US 6-2, 6-2, while the Chan sisters also advanced to the third round following a walkover yesterday.
They were leading Slovenian Polona Hercog and Misaki Doi of Japan 5-2 in the first set when the match was called off.
Hsieh and Mertens face Poland’s Iga Swiatek and Bethanie Mattek-Sands of the US in the third round, while the Chans are to play Slovenian Andreja Klepac and Darija Jurak of Croatia.
Latisha Chan and partner Ivan Dodig of Croatia lost in the mixed doubles to Dutch duo Demi Schuurs and Wesley Koolhof, falling 6-3, 6-1 in the first round, while Chan Hao-ching and partner John Peers of Australia were to play Croatian Alexa Guarachi and Ken Skupski of the UK after press time last night.
In the first round of the men’s doubles on Friday, Dutchman David Pel and Julian Knowle of Austria beat Taiwan’s Lu Yen-hsun and Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka 6-4, 6-1.
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