A British hope, a five-time champion, the reigning French Open champion, a former No. 1, and a former world junior No. 1 made up the potpourri of winners on Friday at the All-England Club in an agreed-upon wide open field into the round of 16 at Wimbledon.
The No. 10 seed and five-time champion Venus Williams led the sentimental charge, defeating Japan’s rising star Naomi Osaka 7-6(3), 6-4, to set up a meeting with former junior No. 1 Ana Konjuh.
“She played an amazing match today,” said Williams, who was competing in her first Wimbledon before Osaka was born. “She really played a match that was worth — she deserved to win. But these sort of matches are always so close.”
Other Top 10-seeded winners were No. 2 Simona Halep still chasing the No. 1 ranking, defeating China’s Peng Shuai 6-4, 7-6(7); No. 4 Elina Svitolina moving past Carina Witthoeft of Germany 6-1, 7-5; and Brit hope and No. 6 seed Johanna Konta rolling past Greece’s Maria Sakkari 6-4, 6-1.
“I think I’m playing better every match,” said Halep after her tight first-time meeting with Peng. “Today was a very high level of tennis. She plays really well. I played well. I’m really thankful with the way that I played and how I’ve been on court.”
Halep will next face former No. 1 Victoria Azarenka, who had to work past Britain’s Heather Watson 3-6, 6-1, 6-4.
“This is the matches that you’re looking for,” Azarenka said, “try to find a way when not everything goes great.”
On facing Halep, who she is 2-1 career against, Azarenka said, “It doesn’t really matter to me who is on the other side. I always treat my matches, you know, and every opponent I respect the same way, but it is good for me to play against her.”
French Open champion and No. 13 seed Jelena Ostapenko led the lower seeds on Friday, dispatching of the tenacious Italian Camila Giorgi 7-5, 7-5. She will next meet the No. 4 Svitolina.
The No. 27-seeded Konjuh earned her meeting with Venus by upsetting No. 8 Dominika Cibulkova 7-6(3), 3-6, 6-4. No. 21 Caroline Garcia was also a winner, defeating unseeded American Madison Brengle 6-4, 6-3.
Highlights of Saturday play at Roland Garros include (9) Aggie Radwanska vs. (19) Timea Bacsinszky, (5) Carolina Wozniacki vs. Anett Kontaveit, the shaky (1) Angie Kerber vs. unseeded American Shelby Rogers, and (24) CoCo Vandeweghe vs. Alison Riske in an all-American encounter.
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