A flat-footed Ana Ivanovic and a completely out-of-sorts Polish third seed Agnieszka Radwanska bade an early farewell to a cool and blustery Roland Garros on Friday.
For a woman who showed no weaknesses while dispatching Venus Williams in the previous round, Radwanska unusually suffers stage fright when she comes face-to-face with 2009 champion Svetlana Kuznetsova.
So it proved again on Friday as the world No 3 froze on the biggest stage in claycourt tennis, winning a measly three games during a 6-1, 6-2 third-round humbling by the Russian 26th seed. Star watch
Kuznetsova skipped off court - perhaps to experiment with another eye-catching hairdo after showing off cropped, tight braids - after notching up a sixth successive win over Radwanska and securing a last-16 date with Sara Errani.
The defeat also dashed Radwanska’s hopes of finishing the tournament as world number one as she had been in a three-way race for the top spot with Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova.
World No 5 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga prolonged local interest with a 7-5, 6-4, 6-4 win over Italian showman Fabio Fognini, while Tomas Berdych kept up the serene run by the top men’s seeds with a 6-4, 3-6, 6-7, 6-4, 6-4 win over South African Kevin Anderson.
Italy’s Errani may not yet be a household name but she is likely to provide a stiffer test to Russian Kuznetsova as she has already won three claycourt titles this season.
On Friday, Errani roared back from a first-set meltdown to beat Ivanovic 1-6, 7-5, 6-3 and reach the fourth round in Paris for the first time.
After assured performances in her last two outings, Ivanovic had high hopes of progressing beyond the fourth round of a major for the first time since her triumph here in 2008.
It was not meant to be for the bubbly 24-year-old Serbian. “I was making some unforced errors when I was too flat-footed,” said the 13th seed. “Some double faults really came out of nowhere. Maybe I wasn’t using my legs enough.”
Murray accused of being ‘drama queen’
Former Wimbledon champion Virginia Wade called Andy Murray “a drama queen” during his comeback 1-6, 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 win over Jarkko Nieminen on Thursday.
Wade observed: “I have tremendous sympathy that his back is bad but I have more sympathy for the other guy as, honestly, you cannot play against someone who is being a drama queen.”
Murray woke up with back spasms and struggled to put weight on his left leg. “To me that’s quite disappointing,” the Scot responded. “I know how bad it was. And then you have people like that who always come out and say something controversial.”