PARIS (AP) — The Latest from the French Open:
Rest assured, Sloane Stephens says, “the fire is still there.”
After the 22-year-old American lost in the French Open’s fourth round for the fourth consecutive year, she was asked whether the tight, two-hour match against Serena Williams might “sort of re-ignite” her inner fire.
“The flame was never dead,” she replied. “I’m motivated. I’m happy. I’m excited to be playing.”
Another reporter followed up by asking whether Stephens has made a conscious effort to be “showcasing” her “fire” on court.
“No, I think you guys just see what you want to see. … You write what you want to write, you see what you want to see, and you definitely never know what’s going on with the person,” Stephens responded. “So I think all of that together gets mixed up in one, and then you guys come out with this: ‘She’s not happy. She doesn’t look like she wants to play.’ That’s not the case at all. I love tennis. I love my job. The fire is always lit.”
Then, spreading her arms wide, she said: “The flame is like this big.”
Novak Djokovic isn’t mincing his words. He’s also stating the obvious. Playing Rafael Nadal in the French Open quarterfinals, Djokovic says, will be “the biggest possible challenge for me on clay.”
“I’m very excited,” said the No. 1 seed, looking ahead to Wednesday’s blockbuster. “It will be great match.”
In 71 matches at Roland Garros, nine-time champion Nadal has only ever lost once — to Robin Soderling in the fourth round in 2009.
Djokovic is unbeaten in his last 26 matches.
Wednesday’s quarterfinal will be the 44th time Djokovic and Nadal have played each other. Nadal leads 23-20.
The blockbuster quarterfinal at the French Open — Rafael Nadal vs. Novak Djokovic — is on.
Nadal dispatched Jack Sock — not without difficulty. And Djokovic beat Richard Gasquet 6-1, 6-2, 6-3. So the match that was the final last year will be in the quarters on Wednesday.
Nadal is bracing for a “very tough” test against “the best player in the world.”
“To have any chance against him I have to play my real best tennis,” said Nadal, whose ranking has slipped to seventh.
In losing 6-3, 6-1, 5-7, 6-2 in their fourth-round match, Sock became the first player at this edition of the clay-court major to take a set off the nine-time champion.
Jack Sock has become the first player to take a set off nine-time champion Rafael Nadal at this French Open.
Sock is still trailing by a set in their fourth-round match, after Nadal raced to a 6-3, 6-1 lead.
But Sock, the last U.S. man in the draw, took the third set 7-5. He let out a guttural scream after breaking Nadal with a furiously struck forehand winner.
In 70 previous matches at Roland Garros, Nadal has only ever lost once — in 2009.
You would be forgiven for never having heard of Alison Van Uytvanck. In which case, meet Belgium’s soon-to-be new No. 1.
Van Uytvanck was 1-5 in Grand Slam matches before the French Open. Now, she is 5-5 after four wins at Roland Garros that put her in the quarterfinals of a major for the first time. At 93rd, she will be the lowest-ranked quarterfinalist this year by far. The others are all top 30.
Van Uytvanck beat Andreea Mitu, ranked 100th and playing in only her second major, 6-1, 6-3 to reach last eight.
On the strength of her run at the French, she is projected to overtake Kirsten Flipkens and Yanina Wickmayer to become Belgium’s leading woman when the new WTA rankings are released next Monday.
The last U.S. man in the draw, Jack Sock, is making a real go of his first-ever match against Rafael Nadal, but is losing all the same.
Sock is down two sets — 6-3, 6-1 — to the nine-time French Open champion.
If Sock cannot turn around their fourth-round match, at least the 22-year-old will take away a few highlights.
Check out the size of his grin, in this video, after saving a set point: https://twitter.com/rolandgarros/status/605390691687006209 .
Serena Williams valiantly speaking French in an on-court interview can only mean one thing: The No. 1 has won again at Roland Garros.
A strange fourth-round match from the 19-time Grand Slam champion. She looked curiously flat at times against Sloane Stephens but still fought back from a switched-off first set to win 1-6, 7-5, 6-3.
Stephens threw everything at Williams, literally. In the eighth game of the third set, she tossed her racket at a ball that fizzed past her forehand.
But it is Williams, not Stephens, who will be the only U.S. woman in the quarterfinals.
“Very difficult,” Williams told the crowd on Court Philippe Chatrier. “Experience helped me.”
Andy Murray overcame a partisan crowd and Frenchman Jeremy Chardy’s strong resistance to remain unbeaten on clay this season and reach the last eight at the French Open for the fifth time.
The third-seeded Murray was whistled and booed several times in his 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 win but stayed cool to set up a quarterfinal against David Ferrer, runner-up at the French in 2013.
On the back of his best season on the slower surface, Murray is bidding to add the French Open to his U.S. Open and Wimbledon crowns.
When three-time French Open champion Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario offered advice, Garbine Muguruza didn’t think twice. “I was like, ‘Yes, tell me everything!'” she says.
And it worked: Muguruza is into the quarterfinals for the second straight year at Roland Garros.
“I was talking to her in the locker room,” Muguruza said after her 6-3, 6-4 fourth-round victory against Flavia Pennetta. “You have to listen to a champion like Arantxa.”
No other Spanish woman has lifted the trophy since Sanchez-Vicario last did in 1998.
Muguruza hopes to be next. The 21-year-old was born in Venezuela but made her home in Barcelona.
“In big tournaments I feel more motivated, and I can play my best tennis,” said the No. 21 seed who has yet to get beyond the fourth round at any other major and is developing a soft spot for the French.
“I think it’s going to be my favorite Grand Slam,” she said.
Muguruza next plays Lucie Safarova, who ousted defending champion Maria Sharapova.
At 5-foot-9 (1.75 meters), David Ferrer is on the short side for a tennis player, but he stands very tall on clay.
The French Open runner-up in 2013 breezed past U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic (6-foot-6; 1.98 meters) 6-2, 6-2, 6-4 to reach the quarterfinals at Roland Garros.
Coming into their fourth-round match, Cilic had been broken just once in 40 service games.
Ferrer ruined that, breaking the Croat five of the 13 times he served.
Ferrer, seeded seventh, next plays either Andy Murray, seeded third, or unseeded Frenchman Jeremy Chardy. They are on court now, tied at one set apiece.
“Roger forever,” said a sign held up by Federer fans on the French Open center court.
That’s surely over-optimistic. But the 2009 champion gets to fight another day, into the quarterfinals for the 11th time.
For the fourth time in four matches against Gael Monfils at Roland Garros, Federer triumphed, winning 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-1.
The 17-time Grand Slam champion next plays his Davis Cup Swiss teammate, Stan Wawrinka.
Federer and Monfils were tied at one set apiece when the gloom interrupted their fourth-round match Sunday night. Federer handled the disruption far better than the Frenchman did, looking sprightly as they resumed Monday. Monfils appeared to be battling a runny nose.
Maria Sharapova battled a cold, wiping her runny nose and coughing during matches, through this French Open. But she’s not blaming that for her failure to reach the quarterfinals for the first time since 2010.
Instead, the champion in 2014 and 2012 says Lucie Safarova was simply more aggressive than she was and found “a different gear” in her 7-6 (3), 6-4 win.
Safarova, a Wimbledon semifinalist last year, was the first left-handed player Sharapova faced at Roland Garros this time, and the second seed had warned beforehand that “lefties are always tricky.”
She was right.
For the first time since 2011, the French Open women’s final won’t feature Maria Sharapova.
The champion last year and in 2012, and runner-up to Serena Williams in 2013, lost 7-6 (3), 6-4 in the fourth round to Lucie Safarova, who is into the French quarterfinals for the first time.
Safarova broke Sharapova in the second game of the second set, when the second seed double-faulted on break point.
Sharapova broke back in the fifth game, when Safarova also double-faulted on break point.
They both held serve to the 10th game, where Safarova put Sharapova under pressure with her accurate, powerful shots. Sharapova saved a first match point, when Safarova netted a clear chance. Safarova made no mistake the second time, putting the champion out with a forehand winner.
Garbine Muguruza is through to the French Open quarterfinals for the second consecutive year.
The 21st seed from Spain beat Flavia Pennetta, seeded 28th, 6-3, 6-4.
Muguruza will face either defending champion Maria Sharapova or Lucie Safarova in the quarters. They are playing now, with Safarova taking the first set.
Defending champion Maria Sharapova is in trouble at the French Open, losing a first-set tiebreaker in the fourth round against Lucie Safarova.
Sharapova hadn’t dropped a set at this tournament until now.
Safarova is playing solid tennis, with accurate shots that are putting Sharapova on the back foot. The 13th seed raced to a 6-1 lead in the tiebreaker and won it 7-3 when Sharapova hit a forehand wide.
It feels like a Wimbledon ‘Mad Monday’ at the French Open.
Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova and Rafael Nadal are all crammed into a fourth-round day of play.
Because of a long rain delay Sunday, two women’s matches were rescheduled for today, including Sharapova vs. Lucie Safarova. They have just started on center court. Sharapova, the defending women’s champion, served first.
Federer and 13th-seeded Gael Monfils follow, picking up at one set apiece after fading light halted their match Sunday night.
Top-ranked Djokovic is looking to book a 24th-straight quarterfinal spot at a Grand Slam against Richard Gasquet.
There are 11 singles matches in the main draws, including nine-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal vs. Jack Sock and Andy Murray vs. Jeremy Chardy.
Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.