Australia’s 45-year wait for another French Open singles champion continues after defeats overnight for Samantha Stosur and Daria Gavrilova.
Stosur looks likely to fall from the world’s top 100 for the first time in a decade after a 6-0 6-2 mauling in the third-round French Open by Garbine Muguruza.
Meanwhile, Daria Gavrilova’s 6-3 6-1 defeat at the hands of Elise Mertens extended Australia’s wait for another singles champion at Roland Garros.
For Stosur it was the equal heaviest defeat of her 146-match grand slam career, leaving her to face the prospect of slipping to No.101 in the world – her lowest since 2008 while on the comeback from Lyme’s disease.
Drawing inspiration from 36-year-olds Serena Williams and Roger Federer, the former US Open champion is refusing to hit the panic button.
“Now until the end of the year, it’s only up for me,” Stosur said.
“Anything (any wins) from here on is going to help. So I’m definitely motivated.
“I definitely intend to keep going and try to really get myself back to where I think I’m capable of being.”
With Stosur and Gavrilova now out, Australia’s hopes of a first crown in Paris since Margaret Court reigned for a fifth and final time in 1973 have been scuppered for at least another year.
Meanwhile, Serena Williams set up a showdown with old rival Maria Sharapova after a 6-3 6-4 win over German Julia Goerges,
The 36-year-old American, a three times a winner in Paris, swept aside the German 11th seed in just one hour and 15 minutes to face Sharapova in the fourth round on Monday.
Sharapova has won just two of their 21 meetings – including the 2004 Wimbledon final – and none in the last 14 years.
Williams is playing her first grand slam since giving birth to her daughter in September.
“It’s really special to be here again,” said Williams courtside who, in the previous round, was forced to come from a set and break down to defeat Australia’s 17th seed Ashleigh Barty.
“This time last year I was pregnant and I was having a tough time and then I had a tough birth so every match at this stage of my return is a bonus.”
Nadal does it in a canter
Clay-court giant and defending champion Rafael Nadal cruised past local favourite Richard Gasquet 6-3 6-2 6-2 to reach the last 16.
There was a sense of inevitability about the outcome when both players made their appearance on Court Philippe Chatrier, where Nadal is the huge favourite to lift the Musketeers Cup for a record-extending 11th time.
“I played very well, I’m sorry for Richard, he is a good friend and a good person,” said Nadal, who played a few rallies with a ball boy after his match.
He has now won 30 sets in a row at Roland Garros, and his last-16 opponent, 70th ranked 22-year-old German Maximilian Marterer, doesn’t exactly seem equipped to cope with Nadal’s dominance on clay.
Gasquet was totally overwhelmed on Saturday but in a bid to give the home fans something to shout about, Gasquet spurred himself into action and with a few beautiful shots reduced the gap to 5-3 in the opener.
Meanwhile, Germany’s Mischa Zverev couldn’t keep up with younger brother Alexander at the French Open, ending their bid to become the first siblings in 27 years to reach the fourth round at the same grand slam tournament.
The 64th-ranked Mischa lost in the third round to 2017 US Open runner-up Kevin Anderson, of South Africa, 6-1 6-7 (7-3) 6-3 7-6 (7-4) on Saturday.
Italy’s Fabio Fognini marched on after he beat 16th-seeded Briton Kyle Edmund 6-3 4-6 3-6 6-4 6-4.
The 18th-seeded Fognini hasn’t reached the fourth round since 2011, when he lost in the quarterfinals.