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25 June 2024

Muguruza eases into last 16 as Sharapova, Serena edge closer to reunion

Photo: AFP


Former champion Garbine Muguruza reached the French Open last 16 on Saturday with a comfortable 6-0, 6-2 win over Australia's Sam Stosur as Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova stood one win away from renewing their longtime rivalry.

Spanish third seed Muguruza, the 2016 winner in Paris and the reigning Wimbledon champion, fired 15 winners past Stosur, the 34-year-old 2010 runner-up and former US Open champion.

After wrapping up the first set in just 25 minutes, Stosur only got on the board in the third game of the second.

"I knew this would be very tough against a former US Open winner and a player who has made the final here," said 24-year-old Muguruza.

"If I didn't play my best tennis, I realised that it would be very hard.

"Coming back here to Court Philippe Chatrier where I won two years ago always brings special feelings inside me."

The Spaniard goes on to face Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine who knocked out Slovakian 19th seed Magdalena Rybarikova 6-2, 6-4.

Tsurenko has now reached the last 16 in Paris for the first time, equalling her best run at a Slam at the 2016 US Open.

Later Saturday, bitter rivals and former champions Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova have the chance to set up a mouth-watering last-16 clash.

Williams, the champion in 2002, 2013 and 2015 and playing her first Slam since giving birth to her daughter in September, faces German 11th seed Julia Goerges.

Sharapova, who carried away the trophy in 2012 and 2014, tackles Czech sixth seed Karolina Pliskova.

Williams last played a major at the Australian Open in 2017 when she won her 23rd major while two months pregnant.

She has dominated the headlines in the first week in Paris as much for her play - she came back from a set and break down to beat Ashleigh Barty in the second round - as for her striking all-black catsuit she has been wearing.

The 36-year-old Williams, now ranked at 451 in the world, boasts a 2-0 career lead over Georges.

It may not be easy on the eye with Williams's renowned power-hitting up against the 29-year-old German who leads the aces count on the WTA Tour in 2018 with 212.

Sharapova plays on Court Philippe Chatrier for the first time in three years after being banned for doping in 2016 and then refused a wild card in 2017.

The Russian, seeded 28 this year, defeated Pliskova in their only other meeting at the Fed Cup final in 2015.

Pliskova made the semi-finals in 2017.

Defending champion, world number one and top seed Rafael Nadal, chasing an 11th Roland Garros title, takes on childhood friend Richard Gasquet.

Nadal has won all of their 15 meetings.

If he wins in straight sets on Saturday, he will take his run of consecutive completed sets to 34, just seven shy of the record held by Bjorn Borg between 1979 and 1981.

Far away from the superstars of the sport, Estonia's Jurgen Zopp attempts to become just the 10th lucky loser to make the last 16 at a Slam.

Zopp, the world 136, faces Germany's Maximilian Marterer who knocked out highly-rated Denis Shapovalov in the last round.

Women's top seed Simona Halep, twice a runner-up, has been shunted out to Court 18 for her third round clash against experienced German Andrea Petkovic.

Halep leads their head-to-head 6-1, including a clash in the semi-finals in Paris in 2015.