In contrasting fashion, Djokovic, Muguruza advance in Paris

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PARIS — One struggled, the other had a stroll in the park.

In contrasting fashion, defending champions Novak Djokovic and Garbine Muguruza both advanced to the third round at the French Open on Wednesday.

Second-seeded Djokovic barely put a foot wrong in a 6-1, 6-4, 6-3 win over Joao Sousa, while Muguruza had to dig deep to avoid becoming the first reigning champion at Roland Garros to lose in the second round since 2014, when she upset Serena Williams.

The fourth-seeded Muguruza was made to work hard for more than two hours on the Philippe Chatrier show court before rallying past 53rd-ranked Anett Kontaveit 6-7 (4), 6-4, 6-2.

Playing at Roland Garros for the 20th time, a record in the Open era, Venus Williams also reached the third round after defeating Kurumi Nara of Japan 6-3, 6-1.

As often in Paris, Djokovic spoke in French during his on-court interview, and joked.

“I’m sorry for my French, my teacher is on holiday,” he said.

On a more serious note, Djokovic said he was pleased with his form after coming through some difficult times since completing a career Grand Slam at Roland Garros last year.

“I felt better than in the first round, that’s exactly what I wanted,” he said.

After dropping the opening set against Kontaveit, Muguruza was down a break in the second before coming back. Playing close to the lines, she got back into her stride and took the decider in 32 minutes on the first of two match points.

“I think she was playing so, so good for the first two sets,” Muguruza said. “I was just hanging in there, being aggressive and waiting for my moment.”

Earlier in the day, Petra Kvitova’s first tournament since being injured in a knife attack at her home was brought to an early end.

The two-time Wimbledon champion, who was seeded 15th, lost 7-6 (5), 7-6 (5) to American qualifier Bethanie Mattek-Sands. Kvitova threw her racket in frustration after double-faulting on match point, but the players warmly embraced at the net.

Kvitova returned to tennis in Paris after being attacked in the Czech Republic in December.

Home favorite Jo-Wilfried Tsonga also exited the tournament, unable to turn around a first-round match against Roland Garros debutant Renzo Olivo that had been suspended on Tuesday due to darkness.

Back on court with the 12th-seeded Tsonga trailing 7-5, 6-4, 6-7 (6), 5-4, the Frenchman lasted less than eight minutes, losing the first three points on his serve but managing to save the three match points. Olivo converted the next one with a forehand crosscourt winner to prevail 6-4.

Tsonga had never lost to a player ranked as low as No. 91 at a Grand Slam.

There was also an unexpected visitor at the French Open, Serena Williams.

The winner of 23 Grand Slam singles titles is not playing for the rest of this season because she is pregnant. Williams found a seat in the shade at Court Philippe Chatrier during her older sister Venus’ match against Nara.

Serena Williams’ baby is due in the fall. She has said she will return to the tour in 2018.

 

U.S. sweeps Uzbekistan, advances to group stage in Davis Cup

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The United States swept its way into the group stage of the Davis Cup Finals, getting the winning point in a 4-0 victory over Uzbekistan from the doubles team of Rajeev Ram and Austin Krajicek.

They beat Sergey Fomin and Sanjar Fayziev 6-2, 6-4, after Tommy Paul and Mackenzie McDonald had won singles matches in Tashkent.

Ram is No. 3 in the ATP Tour doubles rankings and partnered with Joe Salisbury to win the last two U.S. Open men’s doubles titles. But the Americans opted not to use Ram last year in the final round, when they dropped the doubles match in a 2-1 defeat against Italy in the quarterfinals.

Krajicek was making his Davis Cup debut, having reached No. 9 in the doubles rankings late last year.

“They had five great days of preparation, and as anticipated they came out really sharp and got the early break in the first set. And after that it was like two freight trains, there was no stopping them,” interim captain David Nainkin said.

Denis Kudla then beat Amir Milushev 6-4, 6-4.

The winners of the 12 qualifiers being held this weekend advance to the Davis Cup Finals group stage in September, along with reigning champion Canada, 2022 runner-up Australia and wild-card recipients Italy and Spain.

Eight teams will advance to the closing matches of the Davis Cup Finals scheduled for Nov. 21-26 in Malaga, Spain.

In other matches:

France 3, Hungary 2: On indoor hard courts in Tatabanya, Hungary, Ugo Humbert won it for the French with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Fabian Marozsan. Adrian Mannarino had forced the deciding match by beating Marton Fucsovics 7-6 (6), 6-2.

Serbia 4, Norway 0: On indoor hard courts in Oslo, the visitors, playing without top-ranked Novak Djokovic, put away the match when Filip Krajinovic and Nikola Cacic edged Viktor Durasovic and Herman Hoeyeraal 6-4, 3-6, 6-3. Hamad Medjedovic then outlasted Durasovic 6-4, 6-7, 10-4.

Sweden 3, Bosnia 1: On indoor hard courts in Stockholm, Mikael Ymer sent the hosts through by beating Damir Dzumhur 6-1, 1-6, 6-3.

Lesia Tsurenko to face Zhu Lin in Thailand Open final

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HUA HIN, Thailand — Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine reached her first final in four years after the top-seeded Bianca Andreescu retired with a shoulder injury during their semifinal match at the Thailand Open.

Tsurenko, in search of her fifth WTA title, was leading the 2019 U.S. Open champion 7-5, 4-0 when the Canadian stopped playing.

The former world No. 23 fought from 3-5 down to take the first set and reeled off eight straight games before Andreescu retired with a right shoulder problem.

“Bianca is such an amazing player. She is capable of hitting all kinds of shots and gave so much trouble today,” said the 33-year-old Tsurenko, now ranked 136th. “But I was just fighting and I told myself positive things that I can do it. Unfortunately, she had to retire.”

The Ukrainian last lifted a WTA trophy in Acapulco in 2018 and hasn’t been to a final since Brisbane in 2019.

She will face Zhu Lin of China in the final.

“She had some good wins in the Australian Open,” Tsurenko said. “She is one of the dangerous players in this tournament. She is going to give a good fight.”

In the all-Chinese semifinal earlier, Zhu benefited from a barrage of unforced errors from Wang Xinyu and prevailed 6-2, 6-4 for her first WTA final.

The world No. 54 player, who reached the last 16 at the Australian Open in January, relied on her solid baseline game to force errors.

“It was very windy, so I tried to be patient and keep my first serves in,” said the 29-year-old Zhu, who will team up with Wang in the doubles final against Hao-Ching Chan and Fang-Hsien Wu of Taiwan.