Novak Djokovic proved too hot to handle for Canadian outsider Milos Raonic as the Serb qualified for the French Open semifinals for the sixth time with a clinical 7-5, 7-6 (5), 6-4 victory on Tuesday.
The World No.2, chasing the only Grand Slam title to elude him, next meets 18th-seeded Latvian Ernests Gulbis. A couple of double faults in the 11th game put Raonic under pressure and Djokovic took full advantage, grabbing the opening set after first unsettling his opponent with a dipping backhand.
The Serb, who now has a 3-0 record against Raonic, then took the second-set tiebreak when his rival missed a backhand. The Canadian trailed 4-0 in the third set before retrieving one of the two breaks of serve.
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Djokovic, however, ended the contest on his first match point when Raonic, the first Canadian male to reach the last eight of a Grand Slam in the professional era, sent a forehand wide.
The World No.2, who has only reached the final here once before when he lost to eight-times champion Rafael Nadal in 2012, dropped his serve just once, in the final set when victory was virtually assured.
Gulbis followed up his surprise win over Roger Federer in the last 16 by knocking out sixth-seeded Czech Tomas Berdych in straight sets on Tuesday.
Gulbis, 18th seed on the Paris clay, reached a Grand Slam semifinal for the first time.
Czech Berdych, in his now familiar blue and white flowered shirt, seemed short of shots and ideas to squash the newly focused Gulbis who, at 25, has declared this season his “last train” for success after admitting wasting his talent since his breakthrough season back in 2007.
Gulbis peppered his play with almost casual-looking winners at times, as well as spirited exchanges with the umpire over contested calls.
Maria fights back
In women’s action, Maria Sharapova had just too much experience for the talented, yet still green, Garbine Muguruza. The Russian ice queen was 6-1 5-4 down against the up-and-coming Spaniard in their quarterfinal on centre court but used all her experience to come through 1-6, 7-5, 6-1.
The 2012 champion is not one to panic in Paris.
In 2011, she fell 6-3 4-1 behind against French hope Caroline Garcia before prevailing in three sets, inflicting a bagel on her opponent in the decider.
Tuesday was no different as Sharapova, who lost in the final last year, gradually regained the upper hand against Muguruza, who had knocked out defending champion Serena Williams in the second round.
“You’re trying to set smaller goals for yourself, especially in tougher situations where you feel like not much is working for you, your opponent is playing confident tennis, doing so many things well, not making mistakes,” Sharapova explained.
“When you just don’t feel like anything is going your way, you want to try to find a little door to get into.”
The four-times Grand Slam champion broke early in the second set to unsettle the World No. 35.
“I have been there so many times. I know the feeling that once you get a little bit of that it’s always that little part that’s the toughest,” said the Russian seventh seed.
Indian campaign ends
Sania Mirza and Cara Black crashed out of the French Open after being humbled yet again by their nemesis Su-Wei Hsieh and Shuai Peng in the women’s doubles quarterfinals, here today. The 2-6 6-3 3-6 defeat for the fifth seeded Indo-Zimbabwe pair, was their third at the hands of Su-Wei and Peng in the current season.
With Sania’s defeat, the Indian challenge at the Roland Garros ended.
Earlier, Sania also lost in the mixed doubles with her Romanian partner Horia Tecau while Rohan Bopanna too lost in the men’s doubles and mixed doubles events with his respective partners.
Results: Mens Singles: Ernests Gulbis (18), Latvia, def. Tomas Berdych (6), Czech Republic, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4; Women’s Singles: Maria Sharapova (7), Russia, def. Garbine Muguruza, Spain, 1-6, 7-5, 6-1. Eugenie Bouchard (18), Canada, def. Carla Suarez Navarro (14), Spain, 7-6 (4), 2-6, 7-5.
Tv schedule: Wednesday’s men and women quarterfinals live on Neo Sports at 5:30PM
Reading from a piece of paper, Errani gives a piece of her mind
PARIS: Sara Errani’s French Open news conference in her native Italian followed the usual script on Monday – a dozen minutes of mostly mundane questions and answers about her fourth-round victory; about cramping in her right thigh; about a boisterous crowd; etc. – and then it most decidedly did not.
Errani, the runner-up at Roland Garros in 2012, pulled out a piece of white paper, unfolded it, and began reading a statement in Italian, addressed to members of her country’s media. Without looking up, the 27-year-old chastised reporters for not quoting her properly and for sensationalizing what she’s said. Errani did not refer to any particular affront. She began by saying she was doing this “in light of events both in the past and recently.”]
“I am a shy girl and I don’t love being the center of attention,” Errani said, adding that she’s always been willing to speak to reporters and recognizes she’s lucky to travel the world getting paid to pay tennis.
But, she continued, “It’s happened too often that my statements or my answers have been manipulated, distorted or changed to try to find a shocking headline, make news or create gratuitous controversies.”
Errani also said a recent mention of her family in the media was in “poor taste and unfair. I would like it, if when I respond to questions, people just write what I say,” she said.
After two minutes, Errani was done.
She grabbed a piece of tape and attached her sheet of paper to the wall behind where players sit during news conferences. (Reuters)