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Roland Garros 2018

5 things we learned at Roland Garros Day 9: Only Sharapova and Williams matter

Serena Williams during a press conference after withdrawing from the French Open on 4 June 2018
Serena Williams during a press conference after withdrawing from the French Open on 4 June 2018 Reuters/Benoit Tessier

Is today's look at Roland Garros, RFI's Paul Myers wants to know if there are any women out ther!

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  • Maria Sharapova – winner of five Grand Slams can beat Serena Williams winner of 23

This has always been theoretically possible but we just hadn’t seen it in nearly 14 years. But we witnessed it on day nine when Williams pulled out of their last 16 clash with an injured pectoral muscle that left her unable to serve. “The first time I felt it was against Julia Goerges in my third round match,” Williams explained. “It was really painful and I didn't know what it was.” What it is Serena is your first defeat to Maria in 14 years. That rather scars the head-to-head record. It’s now Williams 19 Sharapova 3. An injury has helped to up Sharapova’s number. But she’ll never have Serena’s numbers.

  • Are there other women?

The non-match between Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams rather sucked the life force out of the day nine. Anticipation had our nostrils flaring, eyes rolling and saliva glands gushing. Wail, woe and misery, no match. No pyrotechnics from these two banshees. In the quiet, top seed Serena Halep advanced. She dispatched the 16th seed Elise Bertens in less than an hour. The Belgian only won three games. Third seed Garbine Muguruza was hardly taxed. Lesia Tsurenko withdrew from their last 16 match after only 20 minutes. At least the Ukrainian made it onto court.

  • Theatre upstages tennis

Maria Yourievna Sharapova versus Serena Jameka Williams: only these two grandes dames not playing a match could create such a frenzy. The demise of the second seed Caroline Wozniacki on centre court was eclipsed. The Dane started her last 16 tie against the 14th seed Daria Kasatkina late on day eight. Kasatkina won the first set 7-6 and they went off due to poor light with the score at 3-3 in the second set. When the pair came back, it was blazing sunshine. The Russian won the next three games to wrap up the win to give her a berth in the last eight for the first time in three visits.

  • Tennis as theatre for the every little man

The big serving South African Kevin Anderson is 32 centimetres taller than the 170cm of Diego Schwartzman and for a couple of hours the sixth seed was head and shoulders better than the 11th seeded Argentine. Anderson served for the match in the third set. Was outfoxed and lost it. Anderson also served for the match in the fourth set. Messed that up too. He was eventually undone in the fifth set. Fatigue? Nerves? Schwartzman suggests a different complex. “Well, you know, it's maybe when you're not as strong or you're not as tall as Anderson, I think that people like me more for that.”

  • Don’t vex the Nadal man

On day seven we all cooed as Rafael Nadal spoke fondly about his tour pal Richard Gasquet. He reminisced about they had grown up together on the circuit. The Spaniard then proceeded to carve up the Frenchman. In their fourth round match, Maximilian Marterer from Germany had the audacity to break Nadal in his opening service game and the temerity to hold his own serve to lead 2-0. No, no, no Max. Here’s the facts, Max. Bad move. Nadal won the next five games and took the set 6-3. The second 6-2 and the third 7-6. Into the quarters for the defending champion. No sets dropped yet.

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