Zverev eases through, Sabalenka in shock exit

 - rolandgarros.com

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Alexander Zverev, Roland Garros 2021, third round© Cédric Lecocq/FFT

Alexander Zverev extinguished an attempted comeback from Laslo Djere to stroll into the fourth round with a straight-sets victory on Friday.

The German No.6 seed fought back from 2-5 down in the second set and saved three consecutive set points en route to his two-hours eight-minute success.

Zverev, a Roland-Garros quarter-finalist in 2018 and 2019, has now made the second week in Paris for a fourth year in a row.

He will next square off against Japan's Kei Nishikori, who finally got through a match in less than five sets when his opponent Henri Laaksonen retired with a surprise injury while down 5-7.

"We could do this four more times next week and then it's perfect," Zverev jokingly told Marion Bartoli when she pointed out that she was conducting his on-court interview for a third consecutive match this week in Paris.

"I was down 5-3, 40-0 on his serve, so you don't always come back from that score. He played a fantastic match, he's playing great on this surface anyway, so I knew I had to play much, much better than the first two rounds and I did that today.

"I'm happy that the further we go in the tournament, the better I'll start hopefully playing."

ADF outlasts Ruud

Spain's Alejandro Davidovich Fokina gave himself an early birthday present as he came out victorious in a gruelling four-hour 34-minute tug of war with Norwegian 15th seed Casper Ruud to reach the fourth round for the second time in his last three Grand Slams.

The world No.46, who turns 22 on Saturday, needed five match points and saved four set points in a marathon final game before completing a 7-6(3), 2-6, 7-6(6), 0-6, 7-5 win over Ruud, who was a champion in Geneva coming into the tournament, who was 17-4 win-loss on clay this season entering the match.

Nastia sends No.3 seed packing

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova punched her ticket to the Roland-Garros fourth round for the first time since 2011, and just the second time in her career, with a 6-4, 2-6, 6-0 upset of third-seeded Aryna Sabalenka on Court Simonne-Mathieu on Friday.

The Russian No.31 seed, who lost to Sabalenka in the Madrid semi-finals last month, needed an off-court medical timeout after dropping the second set and returned to the court with a vengeance, en route to a one-hour 40-minute victory.

The 29-year-old converted 5/10 break points and fired 22 winners against 16 unforced errors.

Pavlyuchenkova next faces ex-world No.1 Victoria Azarenka, who ousted former Roland-Garros semi-finalist Madison Keys 6-2, 6-2.

Maiden Slam second week for Rybakina

Pavlyuchenkova's doubles partner, Elena Rybakina, also claimed an early third-round victory on Friday, to earn a spot in the second week of a Grand Slam for the first time in her career.

The 21st-seeded Kazakhstani defeated Elena Vesnina 6-1, 6-4 in a mere 63 minutes to set up a last-16 clash with Serena Williams or Danielle Collins.

Composed display from Vika

Azarenka, a two-time major champion and a runner-up at the US Open last September, has had an injury-interrupted 2021 so far but appears to have recovered her form as she moves into the fourth round in Paris for the first time since 2013, when she made the semi-finals.

The Belarusian No.15 seed limited Keys to a 37 per cent success rate on her second serve and benefited from 33 unforced errors coming off of the American's racquet.


"Right from the beginning I knew it was going to be a lot of intensity, Madison plays a lot of really heavy balls," Azarenka told Fabrice Santoro during her on-court interview.

"She serves well, so I tried to make as many opportunities as I can and be really solid and tried to put a lot of pressure on her so she doesn't dictate the game so much because that's what she wants to do. When she has time, she's probably one of the best strikers on tour."

Wheelchair action gets underway

Top-seeded Shingo Kunieda got his men's wheelchair singles campaign off to a winning start as he dismissed Britain's Gordon Reid 7-6(2), 6-2 to advance to the semi-finals.

On the women's side, South African Kgothatso Montjane eased past Dana Mathewson 6-3, 6-4 in under 90 minutes and awaits Yui Kamiji or Jordanne Whiley in the last four.