Paris - Serena Williams swept into the last 16 at the French Open on a
rain-hit Saturday in Paris, while Dominic Thiem confirmed his status as
an outsider to win the men's title.
Williams, seeking an Open-era,
record-equalling 22nd Grand Slam title, was a set up and about to
tackle a second set tie-break against France's Kristina Mladenovic when a
thunderstorm sent everyone scurrying for cover.
resumption, more than two and a half hours later, the top seed and
defending champion needed five match points to finish the job going
through 6-4, 7-6 (12/10) with Ukraine 18th seed Elina Svitolina next in
her line of fire following her victory over former champion Ana
"It was very difficult, she played really, really well.
She forced me to bring out my best tennis," the 34-year-old American
Thiem was already done and dusted ahead of the rain, downing
German teenager Alexander Zverev 6-7 (4/7), 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 to reach the
In what was a clash of two of the sport's rising new
stars, the Austrian dropped a tight first set, but then coasted away
from his 19-year-old opponent.
He will next play Spain's Marcel
Granollers, who reached the fourth round without hitting a ball after
nine-time champion Rafael Nadal withdrew due to a wrist injury.
If he wins that, it will be the first time that 22-year-old Thiem has reached the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam tournament.
been the third match in the last four weeks between us and it was
really tough, but I knew that from the start already," he said.
"It was my first match on one of the big stadiums (at Roland Garros) and it was packed. An unbelievable experience."
through to the last 16 was 2014 losing finalist David Ferrer who
comfortably saw off the challenge of fellow Spaniard Feliciano Lopez
6-4, 7-6 (8/6), 6-1
In the women's tournament, there were early
wins for eighth seed Timea Bacsinszky of Switzerland, Spain's Carla
Suarez Navarro and Kazakhstan's Yulia Putintseva, who reached the last
16 of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time.
long rain delay forced organisers to shuffle the court scheduling with
notably top seed Novak Djokovic switched from the Philippe Chatrier
centre court to the secondary Court Suzanne Langlen for his match
against Britain's Aljaz Bedene.
The Serb has already seen his
chances of becoming just the eighth man to win all four Grand Slam
titles hugely helped by Nadal's shock withdrawal and his only previous
match against Bedene was a straight sets win in the first round of last
year's Australian Open.
Both the Williams sisters were on the
schedule ahead of a potential semi-final showdown with Venus also taking
on a home hope in the shape of Alize Cornet.
headlines in the last round when her vanquished opponent, Tatjana Maria
of Germany, angrily accused her of faking injury to gain time to recover
from a severe bout of cramps.
The bad feeling from that clash
spilled over with Maria saying that her camp were considering taking
legal action for a violation of the rules against the International
Tennis Federation, the WTA or the French Open.