Getty Images

Rafael Nadal through to quarterfinals at French Open

Leave a comment

PARIS — Rafael Nadal eased into his record-equaling 11th quarterfinal at the French Open by swatting aside Roberto Bautista Agut 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 on Sunday.

The nine-time champion matched Roger Federer’s Open era record for appearances in the last eight at Roland Garros. The fourth-seeded Spaniard next meets either No. 5 Milos Raonic of Canada or Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta. They were still playing their fourth-round match when Nadal finished his in less than 2 hours.

Nadal secured victory on his third match point when he pushed Bautista Agut to the back of the court with a big forehand that his countryman could only pat back into the net at full stretch.

The 31-year-old Nadal is chasing his 15th Grand Slam title and first since 2014 – when he won at Roland Garros.

After losing the Australian Open final to Federer in a five-set thriller – and then twice more to Federer on hard courts – Nadal has been in fine form on clay, winning titles at Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Madrid.

The only player to have beaten Nadal on clay this season is Austrian Dominic Thiem – who was playing Argentine Horacio Zeballos later Sunday in a fourth-round match.

Meanwhile, No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki returned to the quarterfinals for the first time since 2010, eliminating 2009 champion Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-1, 4-6, 6-2.

In remaining men’s third-round action, there were wins for No. 8 Kei Nishikori of Japan; No. 15 Gael Monfils of France and unseeded Russian Karen Khachanov.

Nishikori recovered to beat Hyeon Chung 7-5, 6-4, 6-7 (4), 0-6, 6-4; Monfils was leading 7-6 (5), 5-7, 4-3 against Richard Gasquet when his countryman retired after getting treatment on his right thigh.

Two weeks past his 21st birthday, Khachanov became the youngest man to reach the fourth round here since 2009, beating 21st-seeded John Isner – the last American man in the tournament – 7-6 (1), 6-3, 6-7 (5), 7-6 (3).

In remaining women’s third-round matches, second-seeded Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic brushed aside Germany’s Carina Witthoeft 7-5, 6-1; No. 5 Elina Svitolina of Ukraine won 6-4, 7-5 against Magda Linette, and Croatian qualifier Petra Martic upset 17th-seeded Anastasija Sevastova 6-1 6-1.

Michael Stich, Helena Sukova inducted into tennis hall

Getty Images
Leave a comment

NEWPORT, R.I. (AP) Michael Stich and Helena Sukova have been inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

They were enshrined Saturday during a ceremony on Newport’s grass center court outside the hall.

Stich won Wimbledon in 1991 and a gold medal at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics in doubles with German countryman Boris Becker, also a Hall of Famer.

The 49-year-old Stich said he is “so proud and honored to be a part of the family.”

Hall of Famer Jim Courier told the crowd that “the beauty of his game is what really sticks with me.”

Sukova, a 53-year-old Czech, captured 14 Grand Slam doubles crowns – nine in women’s, five in mixed.

Victoria Azarenka misses direct entry for U.S. Open

Getty Image
Leave a comment

NEW YORK — Two-time U.S. Open runner-up Victoria Azarenka is ranked just below the cutoff for direct entry into the year’s last Grand Slam tournament.

Azarenka, a former No. 1 and twice the champion at the Australian Open, is No. 108 this week, seven spots outside of an automatic spot in the main draw.

The U.S. Tennis Association announced Wednesday that defending champion and top-ranked Rafael Nadal is one of six past male singles champions in the U.S. Open field, along with Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Juan Martin del Potro and Marin Cilic. Another past title winner at Flushing Meadows, Stan Wawrinka, is ranked 199th this week.

The women’s winners with direct entry based on this week’s rankings are six-time champion Serena Williams, two-time champ Venus Williams, defending champ Sloane Stephens, Maria Sharapova and Samantha Stosur.