IT was an intriguing day of Round of 32 action in the Roland Garros women’s draw, as a number of American competitors took the court and upsets aplenty made waves.
Two exciting all-American clashes took place, with the first between fourth seed Sofia Kenin and 28th seed Jessica Pegula going the whole hog, as Kenin claimed victory in one hour and 56 minutes. While the fourth seed has been in shaky form thus far in 2021, Kenin bit back after the first set to
“I’m happy with the way I’m playing. Of course it gives me confidence. I’m finally not on a one-match winning streak. Because this whole year, it was like the second time I won two matches in a row,” Kenin explained. “I was obviously really happy. It was a tough match. It was a lot of ups and downs, emotions. I’m just really happy with the way I’m playing.”
“I’ve worked hard on my fitness and my game the past few weeks, so I feel like it’s obviously improving,” Kenin said. “Of course, the more matches that I’m playing, more confidence I’m getting. Of course, I’m happy that it’s clicking during French Open. I’m not going to complain about that.”
The second blockbuster between teen sensation and 24th seed Coco Gauff and 13th seed Jennifer Brady was unfortunately cut short – after just 23 minutes – by an aggravated foot injury to Brady, who explained post-match that she has been suffering from plantar fasciitis and bone bruising following the Rome WTA 1000 event last month.
“I actually was considering not even playing here,” Brady said. “I wasn’t going to step out there unless I could finish the match in the first round. Happy that I was able to get a couple of matches in.
“Then today, I woke up and it was, you know, just worse. I couldn’t really play my game. I was about 20 percent moving. So unfortunate.”
“It’s unfortunate because I have known Jenny very well, and she’s such a nice person,” Gauff said. “If you ask every player on tour, no one is going to say anything bad about her because she’s always laughing and joking around. So I just hope that by the time Wimbledon comes she’ll be healed up and ready to compete at 100 percent again.”
Meanwhile, unseeded duo Barbora Krejcikova and Sloane Stephens executed upsets to set up a huge Round of 16 clash, as Czech talent Krejcikova downed fifth seed Elina Svitolina in straight sets, 6-3 6-2, with last week’s maiden title at Strasbourg clearly crucial for the Czech’s confidence and success.
“I’ve been playing a lot of matches where I actually was leading, and then I just started to play really passive and then I lost,” Krejcikova said. “So I don’t want to make the same mistake again. I was just saying to myself, okay, you go, you’re going to play your shot and you win or you lose. There’s nothing wrong about not really actually closing the match because that’s normal. It happens to so many other players, so many higher players.
“So I just felt, okay, I’m going to go. I’m going to try to play my tennis, my best shots, and let’s see, and if I close it, it’s going to be perfect.”
Krejcikova made more unforced errors but made up for it with her 38 winners to Svitolina’s 20, slamming three winners to complete the match, while Stephens required almost two hours to claim her 6-3 7-5 victory over 18th seed Karolina Muchova.
“My first big fourth round or whatever at a slam was here,” Stephens said. “And obviously consistently making fourth round here has been kind of a staple for me, which has been great. Obviously one of my favourite tournaments of the year, so peaking here has always been really important. The consistency of always doing well here has always brought back good memories.”
Reigning champion Iga Swiatek and Greek talent Maria Sakkari both also got the chocolates in all-seeded encounters, with the former defeating Estonian Anett Kontaveit 7-6 6-0 in 82 minutes, as the latter claimed the longest match of the day, downing 14th seed Elise Mertens 7-5 6-7(2) 6-2 in two hours and 52 minutes. The remaining two winners of the day were Tunisian Ons Jabeur, who continued her excellent run with a one hour and 26-minute victory over Pole Magda Linette, setting up an intriguing clash with Gauff next, as 18-year-old Marta Kostyuk claimed a snappy 61-minute victory over Varvara Gracheva to head into her maiden fourth round appearance at a grand slam, tasked with Swiatek next.
ROLAND GARROS ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:
 Sofia Kenin (USA) defeated  Jessica Pegula (USA) 4-6 6-1 6-4
Barbora Krejcikova (CZE) defeated  Elina Svitolina (UKR) 6-3 6-2
 Iga Swiatek (POL) defeated  Anett Kontaveit (EST) 7-6 6-0
 Coco Gauff (USA) defeated  Jennifer Brady (USA) 6-1 RET
 Maria Sakkari (GRE) defeated  Elise Mertens (BEL) 7-5 6-7 6-2
Sloane Stephens (USA) defeated  Karolina Muchova (CZE) 6-3 7-5
 Ons Jabeur (TUN) defeated Magda Linette (POL) 3-6 6-0 6-1
Marta Kostyuk (UKR) defeated Varvara Gracheva (RUS) 6-1 6-2
Picture credit: Corinne Dubreuil/FFT