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Maria Sharapova eases past Karolina Pliskova at French Open, Sloane Stephens advances

Maria Sharapova eased past her higher seeded opponent Karolina Pliskova to book her spot in the next round at Roland Garros. Sloane Stephens, reigning US Open champion, also advanced.

tennis Updated: Jun 02, 2018 18:35 IST
Agencies
Agencies
Agencies
Maria Sharapova,Sloane Stephens,Karolina Pliskova
Maria Sharapova celebrates after winning her third round match against Czech Republic's Karolina Pliskova.(REUTERS)

Maria Sharapova easily handled the big serve of No. 6-seeded Karolina Pliskova and overwhelmed her 6-2, 6-1 to move closer to a possible French Open showdown against Serena Williams.

Sharapova has won two of her five Grand Slam titles at Roland Garros and is now into the fourth round for the 12th time in 14 appearances at the clay-court major.

The 31-year-old Russian, who is seeded 28th after missing the French Open the last two years, will next play the winner of the third-rounder between 23-time major champion Williams and 11th-seeded Julia Goerges. Williams has won 19 of 21 head-to-head matchups against Sharapova, including the last 18 in a row.

Against Pliskova, Sharapova held an 18-5 edge in winners and broke the 2016 U.S. Open runner-up in five of her seven service games. Pliskova has led the WTA in aces the past three seasons — and is No. 2 in that category this year — but managed only one Saturday.

Stephens victorious

U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens clung on for dear life to reach the fourth round of the French Open with a 4-6, 6-1, 8-6 victory over Italian Camila Giorgi.

READ | Garbine Muguruza demolishes Samantha Stosur to reach French Open last 16

The American 10th seed had dropped just six games in her previous two matches and stepped onto a sunbathed Court 18 holding a perfect record against Italian opponents at majors.

But such statistics mattered little to Giorgi and she left Stephens yelling “What the hell’s going on?” after breaking the American to go 6-5 up in the final set.

Giorgi came into the contest knowing she had the game to trouble the American, having won their last two encounters in straight sets, and it was no different on Saturday as she served for the match at 5-4 and again at 6-5.

But Stephens kept her nerve to break back on both occasions and was mightily relieved when she saw Giorgi’s backhand zip beyond the baseline on her first match point.

Stephens will hope her body does not suffer too much fatigue from the two hours 26 minutes tussle as she will be back on court on Sunday for a showdown with Czech Petra Kvitova’s conqueror, Estonian 25th seed Anett Kontaveit.

First Published: Jun 02, 2018 18:24 IST