Spanish women surge into last 16
The party is over for teenage surprise Taylor Townsend after the 205th-ranked wildcard failed to back up her upset of French No.1 Alize Cornet on Friday, soundly beaten by Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro.
Bidding to become the youngest woman to reach the Round of 16 at Roland Garros since Nicole Vaidisova seven years ago, the 18-year-old fell 6-2, 6-2 to the player with arguably the finest single-handed backhand in the women’s game since Justine Henin. The 15th-seeded Spaniard, who won her maiden tour title in Portugal just months ago, dealt out a perfect clay-court lesson in consistency and conversion. Her nine winners were less than half the big-hitting American’s but her unforced error count was a meagre seven, a far cry from the 37 which flew from her opponent’s strings.
For Townsend it brought to a close an impressive Grand Slam debut, which included wins over fellow American Vania King and a three-set upset of 20th seed Cornet.
"I have had a really good time just embracing the moments and the pressure and everything. It's awesome. I really had a great time experiencing this. I couldn't [have] asked for a better first Grand Slam and a better opportunity to show the world what I can do," Townsend said. "I was nervous. Just everything has been so new for me over the past couple of days. She came out really playing well, playing strong. So that put me on the ropes."
Suarez Navarro, who made the quarter-finals at Roland Garros as a qualifier on her debut six years ago, complimented the teenager’s efforts and will favour her own chances of reaching a second quarter-final on the clay in Paris against unseeded Ajla Tomljanovic. "For me, it was difficult because she has a really good serve. She has a really good forehand. It's not easy. I think she will be a really good player," Suarez Navarro said. "It's difficult to find your rhythm against her, but I managed the game."
Later Suarez Navarro’s doubles partner Garbine Muguruza continued her run after taking down defending champion Serena Williams; the Spaniard easily dispatching Venus Williams’ conqueror Anna Schmiedlova 6-2, 6-4. The 20-year-old, who had also beaten the same Slovakian opponent in the second round at Melbourne Park this year, hit 24 winners on her way to a second successive Grand Slam fourth-round appearance.
German eighth seed Angelique Kerber advanced to her third successive Roland Garros fourth round, overcoming Slovakian 31st seed Daniela Hantuchova 7-5, 6-3 under fading light. Kerber is the second-highest seed remaining in the top half of the draw behind Maria Sharapova (No.7) and will face 18th seed Eugenie Bouchard for a quarter-final berth. Bouchard recovered from an early break to send Swede Johanna Larsson packing in a 7-5, 6-4 result.
French wildcard Pauline Parmentier completed an unlikely comeback to upset German Mona Barthel in a near-two-hour battle 1-6, 6-1, 7-5. Barthel served for the match at 5-3, but 145th-ranked Parmentier, roared on by her home crowd, rallied to reach her first Grand Slam fourth round, where she will meet Muguruza.