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Wawrinka trails on odds to repeat as French Open champion

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After failing to get past the quarterfinals in each of his last five tournament appearances, Stan Wawrinka defends his French Open crown this week sporting +1600 odds to win the tournament at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Wawrinka opens this year’s French Open at Stade Roland Garros in Paris looking to rebound from a disappointing early exit at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome a week ago, falling to Juan Monaco in three sets in the Round of 16 after getting swept in straight sets by Aussie Nick Kyrgios in the Round of 32 at the Madrid Open earlier this month.

Those losses have done nothing for the 31-year-old Swiss native’s French Open odds, which had climbed as high as +650 despite getting knocked out of this year’s Australian Open in the fourth round by Canadian Milos Raonic.

Meanwhile, the world’s top-ranked player, Novak Djokovic, sits atop the French Open odds at the sportsbooks as a heavy -125 betting favorite.

Djokovic has been a dominating force at Grand Slam tournaments, winning five of the past seven, but victory has eluded him on the clay at Roland Garros where he has reached the final in three of the past four years but never emerged as champion.

Arriving in Paris on the heels of a loss to Andy Murray in the finals in Rome, Djokovic is enjoying another strong season with five tournament wins, including a record sixth Australian Open victory, topping Murray in the final in straight sets.

Murray, who owns a pair of Grand Slam titles, is a +400 bet to win his first French Open championship, closely trailing nine-time champion Rafael Nadal at +350.

With Roger Federer pulling out of the tournament late last week Kei Nishikori sits next at +2200, while Raonic and Kyrgios, who heads into the event in top form, sit well back of the favorites at +6600 odds.

On the women’s side, Serena Williams will be looking to bounce back from a surprising loss to Angelique Kerber in the Australian Open and claim her third French Open title in four years when she takes the court at Roland Garros as a strong +225 betting favorite.

The three-time French Open champ has now come up empty in her past two Grand Slam tournaments after winning four straight, but claimed victory last week in Rome in just her fourth event of the season.

Victoria Azarenka has reached the semifinals just once in nine French Open appearances but sports solid +500 odds to win the French Open, followed by Simona Halep at +600, Garbine Muguruza at +1000, and Kerber at +1600.

Kerber beats Sharapova in 3rd round; Halep in long-haul win

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Angelique Kerber is the only major winner remaining in the Australian Open women’s draw after ending Maria Sharapova’s comeback tour to Melbourne Park.

The 2016 champion routed Sharapova 6-1, 6-3 in the third-round match on Saturday night to extend her winning streak to 12 matches, including winning the Sydney International title last week.

Five-time major winner Sharapova was back at the Australian Open for the first time since 2016, when a failed test for meldonium led to a 15-month doping ban.

It was all over in one hour and four minutes, a vast contrast to top-ranked Simona Halep’s 4-6, 6-4, 15-13 win in three hours, 45 minutes over American Lauren Davis in the opening match on Rod Laver.

The third set took 2:22 and momentum swung. Halep wasted chances to serve for the match in the ninth, 11th and 15th games, then had to save three match points in the 22nd. There were 11 service breaks and two medical timeouts – for Davis to get treatment on both feet – before Halep converted on her first match point.

“I never played the third set so long, so I’m really happy I could stay and win it. I’m almost dead,” Halep said of the match which equaled Chanda Rubin’s win over Arantxa Shanchez Vicario in 1996 – also 48 games – for the Australian Open record in terms of most games.

“I just feel that my muscles are gone,” said Halep, who badly twisted her left ankle in the first round. “My ankle is, I don’t know how it is because I don’t feel it anymore! But … it was nice to win this match.”

Halep will play Naomi Osaka, who beat 18th-seeded Ashleigh Barty 6-4, 6-2 in a match that was moved from the center court to Margaret Court Arena because of the two long matches on Rod Laver.

No. 20 Barbora Strycova beat U.S. qualifier Bernarda Pera 6-2, 6-2, leaving U.S. Open finalist Madison Keys as the only American woman to reach the fourth round.

Keys advanced 6-3, 6-4 over Ana Bogdan and will next play No. 8 Caroline Garcia, who beat Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-3, 5-7, 6-2.

Sixth-seeded Karolina Pliskova beat No. 29 Lucie Safarova 7-6 (6), 7-5 in a match featuring just one service break.

On the men’s side, Hyeon Chung took out a Zverev for the second time this week. Chung beat fourth-seeded Alexander Zverev 5-7, 7-6 (3), 2-6, 6-3, 6-0 six days after a win over No. 32 Mischa Zverev in the first round.

Another unexpected loss at a major had the highly-touted Zverev admitted he may have a problem.

“Definitely not physical, so… I have some figuring out to do, what happens to me in deciding moments in Grand Slam,” he said.

The 20-year-old Zverev has five titles on the elite tour but his fourth-round exit at Wimbledon last year remains his best run at a major.

Tomas Berdych ended 2009 U.S. Open champion Juan Martin del Potro’s return to Melbourne Park for the first time since 2014 with a 6-3, 6-3, 6-2 win.

Fifth-seeded Dominic Thiem beat Adrian Mannarino 6-4, 6-2, 7-5 to set up a fourth-round match against Tennys Sandgren, who continued his career-best run by beating Maximilian Marterer 5-7, 6-3, 7-5, 7-6 (5).

Former world junior No. 1 Marton Fucsovics beat Nicolas Kicker 6-3, 6-3, 6-2 and No. 25 Fabio Fognini overcame Julien Benneteau 3-6, 6-2, 6-1, 4-6, 6-3.

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More AP coverage: http://www.apnews.com/tag/AustralianOpen

Top-seeded Halep survives marathon match

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Top-seeded Simona Halep served for the match four times before prevailing 4-6, 6-4, 15-13 over American Lauren Davis in a marathon match at Rod Laver Arena.

Halep saved three match points in the 22nd game of the third set at 0-40 and Davis saved five break points in the 23rd game in the 3 hour, 45-minute match. The final set took 2 hour, 22 minutes and Halep won on her first match point when Davis hit a forehand wide along the sideline.

Davis twice had medical timeouts in the final set to have blisters on both feet treated.

Halep will play the winner of Saturday’s later match between local hope Ashleigh Barty and Naomi Osaka.

In other women’s third-round matches, sixth-seeded Karolina Pliskova beat Lucie Safarova 7-6 (6), 7-5 and No. 8 Caroline Garcia beat Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-3, 5-7, 6-2. Garcia will play Madison Keys in the fourth round.

 

More AP coverage: http://www.apnews.com/tag/AustralianOpen