With some unbelievable play, Anna Schmiedlova came from a set and a break behind to beat Venus Williams 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the opening match on Philippe Chatrier in what started the fourth day of Roland Garros. The Slovakian, 19, has faced Williams just once before (earlier this year in Miami) but today proved herself to be the better player, having started slowly but adapting to the brute force of Williams’ forehand for her much deserved win. If Serena Williams managed to win later in the day then she would have the chance to enact revenge on Friday.
However, in what has been turned into Williams Wednesday, the defending champion failed to make any impact against Garbine Muguruza in the first set which saw her trying to climb back from a 6-2 demolishing. In what looked to be the first time in the history of The Open Era that the number 1 and number 2 seeds from a Draw have both exited before the third round, Williams started the second set by being broken in the first game. Things never looked set to improve for William and the 2 time champion was bested 6-2, 6-2 in just over an hour. The pain was noticeable on Williams’ face as she continuously made unforced errors (including on match point) and was tactically outmanoeuvred by the 35th seed. However it was hard to not feel sorry for her as she could be heard shouting ‘I just can’t get a serve’ at 3-1 down in the second set, dropping a game that she’d just fought so hard to break back, with two double faults. Williams has played 288 matches in Grand Slam tournaments and has never won fewer games than she did today.
If Maria Sharapova had lost then there would, for the eigth year in a row, have been a different champion (having won it in 2012). But with a record of 4-0 against Tsvetana Pironkova, Sharavpova should have looked confident at the start of the match and yet a double fault found her a break down after just 3 minutes. The shot of the first set came from Pironkova who gave a slice backhand drop shot to Sharapova’s forehand, it was returned, then thumped passed the former champion to the back. Sharapova responded in kind and Pirinkova could just drop her racquet whilst trying to make it to the ball. Pironkova was finally broken in the 8th game and on her next serve had to save Sharpova from breaking her again, which would have awarded Sharapova the set. Having been unable to convert 2 set points, and having the one that she won replayed, Sharapova finally edged out the set 7-5 with a net cord. A match that Sharapova will want to put behind her, serve was held until the 6th game where she managed to break for a 4-2 lead and eventually took the second set 6-2 with the big shots that we’re used to seeing from her. With the damp, heavy weather, bad lighting, and continously long games, Sharapova will want less matches like these having taken 6 months off due to a shoulder injury at the end of last year.
Wins for Hantuchova, Radwanska, Kerber, Stosur, and Cibulkova set up an exciting Round 3. Lisicki also went out having fallen on her right wrist early in her match and eventually tumbled to a 6-1, 3-0 loss where she retired.
The day also began with a surprise in the Men’s draw as Frenchman Lokoli,19, fell in 5 sets to Steve Johnson, a 24 year old from California. Laurent Lokoli, ranked 406 in the world, took the first sets 6-4, 7-6, and was 4-0 up in the third before the nerves kicked in last night. Crumbling 7-6 in the third, the third day saw play stop with the American 3-1 up in the 5th after also claiming the fourth 6-3. The tide had been turned and Johnson progressed to claim the final set 6-3. Though the pressure proved too much for Lokoli on this occasion, it is clear to see that the Frenchman has a bright future ahead of him and so don’t be surprised to see him using the experience that he has gained here to progress ever further in future Grand Slams.
World number 2, Novak Djokovic, was the first player that has won a Glam Slam tournament to have a great day of tennis, taking the first set from Jeremy Chardy 6-1 in just 25 minutes as coach Borris Becker looked on. Becker, a recent addition to Djokovic’s team, only ever advanced as far as to the Semifinals of this tournament and never won a clay court tournament in his career. With some long ralleys, Djokovic did what he does best as he efficiently outrallied and outclassed Chardy. Djokovic saw out the second set in style, serving for it at 5-4, and eventually took the third for a 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 win. Chardy would have been more apprehensive than most entering the match having lost 19 sets in a row to Djokovic, a stat that now stands at 22. If anything can be said about the win, it is that it may have been overshadowed with Djokovic’s comedic interview from the previous round involving the wonders of what a gluten-free diet can let you accomplish still fresh in the mind of everyone watching.
Fan favourite, Roger Federer, soon followed beating 109th seed Diego Sebastian Schwartzmann. Federer, as usual, will be hoping to win Roland Garros this year having only managed the feat once in 2009 against Robin Söderling. Federer has been coming back into his own of late, though it is hard to see him advance past the Quarterfinals at Wimbledon, a place that has become his own resting place having lost at that stage in 2 of the past 4 years, though followed by him being crowned Champion and then a loss in the 2nd Round last year. After taking the first 6-3, Federer seemed to take control of the match – a benefit for what could be a relatively easy draw for him. Schwatzmann, standing at just 5’7”, is one of the smallest of the top 100 players in the world and plays a close game, constantly standing inside of the baseline to return most shots. This aggressive game, though with its benfits, seemed to be his undoing as unforced errors came after being found out of position on countless occasions. When it worked it came off spectacularly but, though he is another player to be watched, it doesn’t seem as if he could keep it up if it came to a long 5 hour match. Schwartzmann had improved by the end of the match but it wasn’t enough and he eventually bowed out 6-4, 6-4 in the next 2 sets for what is Federer’s 60th win at the tournament.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga went up against Jurgen Meltzer for the third match on Philippe Chatrier and the Frenchman calmly took a 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 win. Tsonga stormed through the first two sets and Meltzer never seemed to turn up, going 4-0 down in the third, before he managed to bring three games back. Meltzer, a previous Mixed Doubles Winner at Wimbledon, delivered some fine hitting but managed to convert just one break point all match. Tsonga was sailing smoothly before the finish but he took his eye off the next game and was only focussed on his next match against Jerzy Janowicz, who beat Jarkko Nieminen 7-6, 7-6, 6-4. However Tsonga eventually served out the match with two aces and an unreturnable serve. A final big ace was called out, much to the disbelief of Tsonga and the crowd, but it didn’t matter as he then hit a crucial cross-court backhand to win the match.
Elsewhere Dmitry Tursunov saw off Sam Querry in straight sets, Giles Simon did likewise to Alejandro Gonzalez, Tommy Robredo defeated Kenny De Schrepper in three sets, and the same for Ernests Gulbis against Facundo Bagnis. Tomas Berdych finally managed to beat Alexsandr Nedovysov after five sets, whilst Mikhail Youzhny and Alexandr Dolgopolov were the shock-losses of the day in the Men’s.
If anything can be taken from the fourth day of Roland Garros it would be that even at such an early stage of the tournament, no one is safe. Tomorrow’s Order of Play sees Jelena Jankovic take on Kurumi Nara, Rafael Nadal versus Dominic Thiem, Richard Gasquet play Carlos Berlocq, and Elina Svitolina against Ana Ivanovic on Court Philippe Chatrier. Court Suzanne Langlen hosts Simone Bolelli and David Ferrer, Alison Riske with Kristina Mladenovic, Petra Kvitova for Marina Erakovic, and Gael Monfils against Jan-Lennard Struff. Court 1 will likely be the most covered channel on ITV as Sloane Stephens plays Polona Hercog, Guillermo Garcia-Lopez takes on Adrian Mannarino, and then a back-to-back British lineup with Andy Murray playing Marinko Matosevic, and Heather Watson ending the day against 4th seed Simona Halep.