That was rather anti-climactic, wasn’t it?
After two sets of head-to-head ball crunching on Friday suspended by darkness, Novak Djokovic and Juan Martin del Potro resumed their battle on Saturday at Roland Garros, where the no-nonsense Serb rolled past the Argentine in the last two sets by the score of 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 in approximately 80 minutes.
“I was managing to control my game a little bit better today than I did yesterday,” said Djokovic, who improved to 40-0 on the season, and 42-0 stretching back to 2010. “I think that resulted with the win.”
While the world No. 2 managed a stiff challenge, the world No. 1 Rafael Nadal rolled past Croat Antonio Veic 6-1, 6-3, 6-0. Afterward the Spaniard fielding media questions as to whether he has gotten his game back on track.
“Solutions don’t come from heaven,” Nadal said. “I mean, you can’t change everything in one day. And you know what? I had not forgotten how to play tennis for a week, but I played better today.”
Djokovic will next face Richard Gasquet, while Nadal will next face Ivan Ljubicic, who was impressive Saturday in steamrolling Spaniard Fernando “Mild Sauce” Verdasco in straight sets.
Ljubicic says he knows he will be facing a more vulnerable version of Rafael Nadal.
“There is no question that his confidence is shaken,” Ljubicic said. “You see him in the lockerroom. He’s saying it. He’s not hiding it.”
Also winning third-round matches on Saturday were No. 4 Andy Murray straight-setting German Michael Berrer, No. 5 Robin Soderling beating Argentine Leo Mayer in straights, No. 18 Gilles Simon upsetting No. 10 Mardy Fish in straights, and No. 15 Viktor Troicki topping No. 23 Alexandr Dolgopolov in four.
In all-unseeded action Colombian Alejandro Falla defeating Lukas Kubot in four, and Argentine Juan Ignacio Chela topping Czech Lukas Rosol after dropping the first set.
Matches to look for Sunday at Roland Garros include (2) Novak Djokovic vs. (13) Richard Gasquet, (3) Roger Federer vs. (14) Stan Wawrinka in an all-Swiss, and (7) David Ferrer vs. (9) Gael “Force” Monfils.
On the women’s side, Saturday at Roland Garros was the demise of the giant killers.
Dutch former junior No. 1 Arantxa Rus, who burst onto the international tennis radar when she knocked Kim Clijsters out of the event a couple days ago, was demolished 6-1, 6-1 by Russian veteran and No. 25 seed Maria Kirilenko. Likewise American Vania King’s run was ended, also the last American exiting the women’s draw, when she was dismissed 6-4, 6-2 by No. 9 seed Petra Kvitova.
One upset-minded player advanced into the fourth round on Saturday when Russian Ekaterina Makarova ousted No. 16 seed Kaia Kanepi 6-4, 7-5.
Other Top 10-seeded winners in third round play were No. 4 Victoria Azarenka topping No. 30 Roberta Vinci, No. 6 Li Na defeating Romanian Sorana Cirstea, and No. 7 Maria Sharapova beating Taipei qualifier Chan Yung-Jan, all three matches in comfortable straight sets.
“She started really well and it took me a few games to adjust, because she has a little bit of an unusual game but very, very solid for clay,” Azarenka said of Vinci. “I think I adjusted really well and really started to dominate.”
No. 12 Aggie Radwanska advanced by stopping No. 21 Yanina Wickmayer in straights, and the dancing No. 15 Andrea Petkovic outlasted No. 24 Jarmila Gajdosova in three.
Singles matches on Sunday are (5) Francesca Schiavone vs. (10) Jelena Jankovic, (3) Vera Zvonareva vs. (14) Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, (11) Marion Bartoli vs. Gisela Dulko, and (13) Svetlana Kuznetsova vs. (28) Daniela Hantuchova.
Kuznetsova, who has taken on former French Open champ and fellow Russian Anastasia Myskina as part of her coaching team, clarified for the media that she will still be keeping her main coach Larisa Savchenko.
“The thing is, I said Anastasia was going to help me, and I see in the press everywhere Myskina is the new coach,” said the animated Kuznetsova. “It’s not like this. I mean, I know you guys [find it] boring in the press. You have to sell newspapers. Probably you don’t have big stories, so that’s why you put this. She got scared, poor girl. I mean, come on. She just helps us, Larisa and me!..She’s good friends with Larisa. She wanted to come to Paris. She makes us company and good atmosphere…I respected her as a player before, and as a personality. She can explain things. She knew exactly how to play tactically and was very smart on the court, so I think I can learn from her. And she can tell me what to do when I am, for example, back in Moscow. This is where I have been struggling, because Larisa is not there. I don’t want to practice alone…Anastasia can do good exercises and follow up with me.”
TENNIS-X NEWS, NOTES, QUOTES AND BARBS
Six of the eight 2011 Australian Open quarterfinalists are still alive in Paris…19-year-old Maria Sharapova at the 2006 US Open is the last teenager to win a Slam…For just the second time in the Open Era, no American players are in the fourth round of a Grand Slam (1973 Australian Open)…Roger Federer has reached 27 straight Grand Slam round of 16s…Novak Djokovic is seeking his 100th career clay match win…Gael Monfils will try for his 200th career match win…The last player to win the Australian Open and French Open in the same year was Jim Courier in 1992…Novak Djokovic has won 42 straight matches — only Guillermo Vilas (46) and Ivan Lendl (42) have better Open Era streaks…Richard Gasquet’s last win over a Top 2 player came against Roger Federer at 2005 Monte Carlo…Roger Federer is 11-0 career against David Ferrer, and 8-1 against Stanislas Wawrinka…The last time no Spanish men reached the final 16 in Paris was 1996…David Ferrer has not dropped his serve…Rafael Nadal is still pushing the tour to change the rankings to a two-year rotation instead of one year, and ending the season earlier while keeping small tournaments going at the end of the year so the top players can get more rest: “Play US Open, play two more weeks and play the Masters. After you can keep having tournaments until December if you want. But not Masters 1000 tournaments or Masters Cup at the end of the season. For all the players 40, 30, 15, 70, or even No. 1 if they have an injury during the season or they want to keep playing, they’re gonna have the chance to keep playing. But if you want to stop, you cannot stop. It is not an option now. All the changes seems like the end of the world for the tournaments. But if they have enough good conditions for the players to be there, they gonna do better than now.”…Kanye West in the Novak Djokovic box versus Juan Martin del Potro on Friday…Nice to hear ESPN’s Pam Shriver being objective about the collapse of the women’s draw compared to the men at the French, as opposed to trying to spin it or turn the tables (e.g. “It just shows how COMPETITIVE it is right now at the top on the WTA tour!”). The WTA tour is hurting for a “hero”…ESPN commentators laughing that Roger Federer again on Friday had no questions from journalists in English in his post-match conference. No Americans in the Top 10, no American journalists in the press room.
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