Roland Garros

Roland Garros: 5 things we learned on Day 8 - Big guns fall silent

Serena Williams was one of three former world number ones to depart the French Open on Day 8.
Serena Williams was one of three former world number ones to depart the French Open on Day 8. © Pierre Rene-Worms/RFI

Thirty-something former world number ones Roger Federer, Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka departed. Federer withdrew to look after his creaking body, Williams was dismantled in straight sets and Azarenka lost in three. 

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Night watch

Would you believe it, the Day 8 night session involves … the boys. No? Yes. Sixth seed Alex Zverev against Kei Nishikori. That’s the sixth match involving men out of the seven played.

Got a night match going? Dial V for Victoria.

During her press conference following her defeat to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Victoria Azarenka weighed in on the evident bias in the allocation of the night session. Feelings about playing in one? “Yeah, I will answer that whenever I will be asked if I would like to play a night session or not," she railed. "Honestly, that would be already a step forward.” 

Au revoir Roger

We could hear the creaking of Roger Federer’s limbs as the 39-year-old fought his way to a four set victory over Dominik Koepfer in the Day 7 night match. The early hours of a Sunday morning on a fan free zone of a centre court isn’t really the place for Mr Tennis after two operations on his knees and loads of rehab. Unsurprisingly, after more than three and a half hours of toil, Federer withdrew from the French Open on Day 8 ahead of his Day 9 showdown with the ninth seed Matteo Berrettini. Federer said he was listening to his body. He wants to protect himself for an assault on Wimbledon later in June. Hey Victoria, Rog probably regrets being asked.

Au revoir Serena

Serena Williams launched the whole night session beano back on Day 2. The 23-time Grand Slam champion will be 40 in July, a month before Federer clocks up the milestone. She did not pull out of the tournament but was rather withdrawn from the event on Day 8. Elena Rybakina dismissed her in straight sets. 6-3, 7-5. All over in 77 minutes to reach the last eight at a Grand Slam tournament for the first time. Rybakina, who is from Kazakhstan, was a cool customer. Admittedly the 21-year-old was aided by a ton of unforced errors. But we’ve often seen Serena blunder and then blast past opponents. “There is literally a point here, a point there, that could change the whole course of the match,” said Williams. “I'm not winning those points. That could just change everything.” How long can she go on not winning those points?

Simple game

Fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas moved into the quarters for the second consecutive year after a commanding straight sets win over Pablo Carreno Busta. The 12th seed is no mug on clay courts but was rarely allowed to show his brilliance. Next up for 22-year-old Greek is Daniil Medvedev who has beaten him in six of their seven meetings. While being quizzed about life in general and about his victory over Carreno Busta, Tsitsipas was asked what he needed to do to see off Medvedev. “Play good tennis,” was the reply. Thank you Stefanos Smartypants.

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