Paris - Serena
Williams set up a mouth-watering French Open showdown against bitter
rival Maria Sharapova on Saturday as Rafael Nadal kept his bid for an
11th title on track with a 16th successive win over childhood pal
Three-time champion Williams made a nonsense of her 451 world ranking
to reach the last-16 with a ruthless 6-3, 6-4 romp past German 11th
seed Julia Goerges.
Sharapova, the 2012 and 2014 winner in Paris, was equally impressive, seeing off Czech sixth seed Karolina Pliskova 6-2, 6-1.
Sharapova and Williams have met 21 times, with the American leading the head-to-head record 19-2 after 18 consecutive wins.
The Russian has not beaten her nemesis since 2004 - before even the birth of Twitter and YouTube.
The American ensured Monday's match could be a heated affair after
dismissing Saturday large parts of Sharapova's recent memoir
'Unstoppable' as "hearsay".
Williams was angry over Sharapova's claims that she sobbed after losing the 2004 Wimbledon final to the then teenage Russian.
"I think the book was 100 percent hearsay, at least all the stuff I
read and the quotes that I read, which was a little bit disappointing,"
"I didn't expect to be reading a book about me, that wasn't necessarily true."
Williams, the champion in 2002, 2013 and 2015 and playing her first
Slam since giving birth to her daughter in September, last played a
major at the Australian Open in 2017 while two months pregnant.
Playing again in her striking all-black catsuit, the 36-year-old
fired 20 winners past Goerges while committing just 12 unforced errors,
three of which were in the first set.
"I think there is a lot of things in her game that she's done much
better than I have... Numbers don't lie," admitted Sharapova of facing
her fellow former world number one.
Their most recent clash was at the 2016 Australian Open - it was
also to be Sharapova's last match before serving a 15-month doping ban.
Five-time Grand Slam champion Sharapova hadn't played on Court Philippe Chatrier since a quarter-final exit in 2015.
However, she made up for lost time by firing 18 winners past an under-cooked Pliskova in just under an hour.
Meanwhile, Nadal, who turns 32 on Sunday, continued his bid for an
11th French Open title and 17th major by brushing aside Gasquet to claim
a 16th consecutive win over his childhood friend.
The world number one's record at Roland Garros now stands at 82 wins and just two losses.
The 16-time Grand Slam champion eased to a 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 victory on Chatrier to reach his 40th last-16 at a Slam.
He also took his run of consecutive completed sets at the French Open
to 34, just seven shy of the record held by Bjorn Borg between 1979 and
Nadal, who lost only two points in the first five games, will next play Germany's world number 70 Maximilian Marterer.
Women's top seed Simona Halep, twice a runner-up, was shunted out to
Court 18 for her third round clash against experienced Andrea Petkovic.
But she prevailed 7-5, 6-0 against the German who was hobbled by a right knee injury.
Third seed Garbine Muguruza, the 2016 champion, reached the last 16
for the fifth successive year with a comfortable 6-0, 6-2 win over
Australia's Sam Stosur.
The Spaniard goes on to face Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine who knocked out Slovakian 19th seed Magdalena Rybarikova 6-2, 6-4.
Estonian 25th seed Anett Kontaveit made the last 16 for the first
time by downing Czech eighth seed Petra Kvitova who saw her 13-match win
streak end in a horror show of 57 unforced errors.
Kontaveit next faces US Open champion Sloane Stephens, the American 10th seed, who saw off Italy's Camila Giorgi 4-6, 6-1, 8-6.
Argentinian fifth seed Juan Martin del Potro reached the fourth round
for the first time in six years by seeing off Albert Ramos-Vinolas 7-5,
6-4, 6-1 to set up a last-16 tie with American John Isner.
Italy's Fabio Fognini made the last 16 for the second time with a
6-3, 4-6, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 win over Britain's last man standing Kyle
Fognini joins compatriot Marco Cecchinato in the fourth round, the
first time that more than one Italian has made the last 16 since 1976.
He next faces third seed Marin Cilic who reached the fourth round of a
Grand Slam for the 20th with a 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 win over Steve Johnson of
the United States.
Belgian eighth seed David Goffin saved four match points to beat 2008
semi-finalist Gael Monfils of France 6-7 (6/8), 6-3, 4-6, 7-5, 6-3.
Results from day seven of the French Open at Roland Garros on Saturday (x denotes seeding):
Rafael Nadal (ESP x1) bt Richard Gasquet (FRA x27) 6-3, 6-2, 6-2
Maximilian Marterer (GER) bt Jurgen Zopp (EST) 6-2, 6-1, 6-4
Diego Schwartzman (ARG x11) bt Borna Coric (CRO) 7-5, 6-3, 6-3
Kevin Anderson (RSA x6) bt Mischa Zverev (GER) 6-1, 6-7 (3/7), 6-3, 7-6 (7/4)
Marin Cilic (CRO x3) bt Steve Johnson (USA) 6-3, 6-2, 6-4
Fabio Fognini (ITA x18) bt Kyle Edmund (GBR x16) 6-3, 4-6, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4
Juan Martin Del Potro (ARG x5) bt Albert Ramos (ESP x31) 7-5, 6-4, 6-1
David Goffin (BEL x8) bt Gael Monfils (FRA x32) 6-7 (6/8), 6-3, 4-6, 7-5, 6-3
Karen Khachanov (RUS) bt Lucas Pouille (FRA x15) 6-3, 7-5, 6-3
Simona Halep (ROU x1) bt Andrea Petkovic (GER) 7-5, 6-0
Elise Mertens (BEL x16) bt Daria Gavrilova (AUS x24) 6-3, 6-1
Angelique Kerber (GER x12) bt Kiki Bertens (NED x18) 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (7/4)
Caroline Garcia (FRA x7) bt Irina Begu (ROU) 6-1, 6-3
Garbine Muguruza (ESP x3) bt Sam Stosur (AUS) 6-0, 6-2
Lesia Tsurenko (UKR) bt Magdalena Rybarikova (SVK x19) 6-2, 6-4
Serena Williams (USA) bt Julia Görges (GER x11) 6-3, 6-4
Maria Sharapova (RUS x28) bt Karolina Pliskova (CZE x6) 6-2, 6-1
Anett Kontaveit (EST x25) bt Petra Kvitova (CZE x8) 7-6 (8/6), 7-6 (7/4)
Sloane Stephens (USA x10) bt Camila Giorgi (ITA) 4-6, 6-1, 8-6