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Five of the best: Women's tournament

By Dan Imhoff   on   Saturday 04 June 2016
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After a spectacular women's final between Garbine Muguruza and Serena Williams, looks back at five more standout matches from this year's tournament.

Sam Stosur [21] d. Lucie Safarova [11] 6-3, 6-7(0), 7-5

Australian Sam Stosur has tasted her most consistent Grand Slam success in Paris but went into this match a heavy underdog against last year's finalist Lucie Safarova. Where her heavy topspin forehands and kick serves are well suited to the clay, her weapons are often nullified against a lefty. The 32-year-old Stosur's record against the Czech going in was an unfavourable three wins from 14 encounters, with all three prior matches on clay going the way of Safarova.

In a high-quality encounter in which she thumped down 14 aces, Stosur put behind the disappointment of losing the second set tie-break 7-0 and despite letting a 4-1 lead in the third set slip, rallied to break Safarova in the final game. "I was like, jeez, I can't remember being so happy to win in the third round," she said. "It means a lot."

Simona Halep [6] d. Naomi Osaka 4-6, 6-2, 6-3

With her curly mane of hair bouncing around as she swatted heavy groundstrokes from both wings, livewire Japanese player Naomi Osaka had 2014 Roland-Garros runner-up Simona Halep in trouble after taking the first set and narrowly missing a simple half-volley on break point early in the second. Halep broke to love in response and in the end her greater consistency proved telling against an opponent who went for broke till the end.

"I mean, she has more experience than me, so I feel like I'm not the greatest player ever, so I can't be upset that I lost," Osaka said. "I'm just going to take this as like a learning lesson, because it's better than how I played in Australian Open third round, anyway."

Kiki Bertens d Daria Kasatkina [29] 6-2, 3-6, 10-8

World No.58 Kiki Bertens had taken down Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber in the opening round and continued her glory run with a marathon escape against gutsy 19-year-old Russian Daria Kasatkina. Bertens had more than a second fourth-round appearance at Roland-Garros on the line in this match.

Despite already holding down a high enough ranking for Olympic qualification, the Dutch Olympic Committee stipulates a player must have reached the fourth round at a major in the past year to earn selection. The Dutchwoman eventually converted on her sixth match point when the Russian, hampered by an upper leg injury, sent a weary forehand wide. She would go on to reach her maiden Grand Slam semi-final before falling to Serena Williams.

Agnieszka Radwanksa [2] d. Barbora Strycova [30] 6-2, 6-7(6), 6-2

While neither profess to being most comfortable on the red dirt, it was an entertaining battle between two of the most fleet-footed and crafty women on tour with a fourth-round berth up for grabs. With Radwanska seemingly cruising, the pair played out arguably the point of the tournament, doing the splits as both were wrong-footed closer to the net, diving and tumbling before the wily Czech put away the short backhand.

It sparked her into action as she reeled off five straight games on her way to taking the second set tie-break. Both players were struggling on serve and it would be the Pole who went on to secure four breaks in the decider to advance. "I knew she's a very solid player. She has very good hands, very good touch. She's not the player hitting the ball as strong as possible," Radwanska said. "I knew it's going to be a lot of running [and] rallies."

Serena Williams [1] d. Yulia Putintseva 5-7, 6-4, 6-1

In her first serious test of the tournament, defending champion Serena Williams was in all sorts of trouble against plucky 5ft4in Kazakh Yulia Putintseva. Working the crowd in her favour, the world No.60's speed and consistency caught Williams off-guard for the best part of two sets. Twice Putintseva had a break point to serve for the match at 4-4 in the second set. And while Williams' 43 unforced errors made for a far-from-impressive day at the office on her part, it was her grit and determination  that so often kicks in when the chips are down, which shone. She clinched eight of the last nine games to book her semi-final berth.

"She's an incredible fighter, so she kind of came back through her will and making shots," Williams said of letting a 4-1 second-set lead dissipate. "After that, I was like 'I have to do something better and different if I'm going to stick around'."

Next Article: He said, she said: Week 2 quotes
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