A day of madness on the women's side of the draw Monday at the 2015 French Open got marginally saved by a slew of convincing performances from the elite men's contenders who graced the Day 9 slate.
The shocking results came early, with second-seeded defending champion Maria Sharapova ousted in straight sets by No. 13 Lucie Safarova. No. 4 Petra Kvitova joined her later in the afternoon by dropping a three-set match to Timea Bacsinszky, while top-seeded Serena Williams had to overcome a first-set letdown for the third-straight match before taking down Sloane Stephens.
Instead of following suit, the Big Four of Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray—all in action Monday—took care of their matches dominantly to set up a star-studded quarterfinal draw.
The tournament's opening week is now history, and now begins another tournament in itself as elite stars and up-and-comers fight for a spot in the semifinal. Here's a breakdown of Monday's action and where it goes from here.
2015 French Open Scores: Monday, June 1
|No. 1 Novak Djokovic def. No. 20 Richard Gasquet||6-1, 6-2, 6-3|
|No. 2 Roger Federer def. No. 13 Gael Monfils||6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-1|
|No. 3 Andy Murray def. Jeremy Chardy||6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2|
|No. 6 Rafael Nadal def. Jack Sock||6-3, 6-1, 5-7, 6-2|
|No. 7 David Ferrer def. No. 9 Marin Cilic||6-2, 6-2, 6-4|
|No. 1 Serena Williams def. Sloane Stephens||1-6, 7-5, 6-3|
|No. 13 Lucie Safarova def. No. 2 Maria Sharapova||7-6 (3), 6-4|
|No. 23 Timea Bacsinszky def. No. 4 Petra Kvitova||2-6, 6-0, 6-3|
|No. 21 Garbine Muguruza def. No. 28 Flavia Pennetta||6-3, 6-4|
|No. 17 Sara Errani def. Julia Goerges||6-2, 6-2|
|Alison Van Uytvanck def. Andreea Mitu||6-1, 6-3|
No. 13 Lucie Safarova def. No. 2 Maria Sharapova
No repeat champion on the women's side will materialize this year at Roland Garros. Sharapova's chances of doing that evaporated into the Paris morning when Safarova supplanted her in straight sets to advance to the quarterfinal.
The second-seeded Russian faced an uphill battle from the very start, as Safarova raced out to a 3-1 lead in the opening set. She fought to get back into the set but couldn't force a tiebreaker.
The second set was a similar story, with Safarova taking the first three games before Sharapova rallied with three of her own. Sharapova served to keep the match alive at 4-5, but Safarova made good on her second match-point opportunity.
Sharapova told WTATennis.com what went wrong for her:
She was the much more aggressive player, took the time away from me, created her angles - and I didn't. That was the difference today, in my opinion. My opponent was at a much higher level than I was, and more consistently than I was, and that results in a bad day at the office. It was just a tough day.
Safarova came into this match with Sharapova having lost four of her last five but knocked on the door in the last three matches and made the strides necessary Monday. Her potential is finally shining through against top opponents, as tennis journalist Jake Davies noted:
Sharapova has been practically unbeatable at Roland Garros over the last several years but left no secret that her game wasn't at its typical level at this year's French Open. That finally manifested itself in a tough loss that put the brakes on Sharapova's recent dominance at Roland Garros.
As for Safarova, she's one more victory in the quarterfinals against No. 21 Garbine Muguruza away from matching her best result of a semifinal at a Grand Slam. She's already notched a personal best by getting into the final eight at Roland Garros, but the sky is the limit if she plays like she did Monday.
No. 6 Rafael Nadal def. Jack Sock
The early speed bumps are officially out of the way for Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, setting up a dream-like quarterfinal clash after Nadal overcame a challenge from Jack Sock Monday afternoon.
The Spaniard jumped on his opponent very early on, racing out to leads in the opening two sets that the young American couldn't recover from. Sock did, however, mount some resistance by stealing the third set and putting some pressure on Nadal.
That didn't continue. Nadal re-established his control over the match, putting Sock in the dirty clothes hamper and confirming a magnificent matchup for Wednesday as Roland Garros shared:
Folks have been hyping up the quarterfinal match as decisive for the championship ever since the draw got announced, and it's hard to disagree. After all, Djokvic and Nadal have met in two of the last three finals. But Nadal was hesitant to paint it as such, per Christopher Clarey of the New York Times:
It remains to be seen whether Nadal will be up for the challenge of facing Djokovic earlier than expected, but he's certainly made those claims of his downfall seem farfetched to say the least. He's looked like his usual dominant self at Roland Garros, which should do nothing but establish fear in Djokovic's mind.
Sock stood no true chance of knocking off Nadal on Monday, but he has more than proven himself as an up-and-coming star over the last week at Roland Garros. With American contenders on the men's side few and far between, Sock's emergence will be a welcome sign for those in the States.
No. 1 Serena Williams def. Sloane Stephens
Once again, Williams fell victim to an early surge from an opponent. But for the third time in a row, she overcame that to reign supreme in a three-set thriller—this time over a budding American rival in Stephens.
Not only did the top-seeded American drop the first set, but it happened in such a lethargic manner that it appeared as if her chances of a third French Open title were evaporating. The second set came tough for Williams, but she regained control in time to breeze through the third set and take the victory.
Monday marked another far-from-perfect performance from Williams as she hit 43 unforced errors to Stephens' 21 and notched one less point in total than Stephens, but none of that mattered when Williams was putting the finishing touches on the win.
Although the long matches may seem to be taking a toll on Williams, she left no doubt that she's willing to go the distance from here on out, per Roland Garros:
To say things haven't been easy for Williams thus far at Roland Garros would be an understatement, as she's had to battle back from a set down in three of her four match victories. But as the only top-four seed still alive on the women's side, she's sitting pretty for a run at her third French Open.
No. 17 Sara Errani awaits Williams in the quarterfinals.
Tuesday Schedule and Predictions
|Men's Singles||Court (Match No.)||Prediction|
|No. 5 Kei Nishikori vs. No. 14 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga||Philippe-Chatrier (2nd)||Tsonga|
|No. 2 Roger Federer vs. No. 8 Stan Wawrinka||Suzanne-Lenglen (2nd)||Federer|
|Women's Singles||Court (Match No.)||Prediction|
|No. 7 Ana Ivanovic vs. No. 19 Elina Svitolina||Philippe-Chatrier (1st)||Ivanovic|
|No. 21 Garbine Muguruza vs. No. 13 Lucie Safarova||Suzanne-Lenglen (1st)||Safarova|
|RolandGarros.com / author's predictions|
No. 5 Kei Nishikori vs. No. 14 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has already taken down one coveted top-five seed in the last few days, but he'll have another tough opponent on tap for Tuesday as No. 5 Kei Nishikori looms.
Neither player has looked anything short of dominant thus far at Roland Garros. Nishikori has failed to drop a single set amid his three wins (one walkover), while Tsonga surprised by dropping his third set against Tomas Berdych only to rally for a four-set win.
Nishikori has won four of five career meetings with Tsonga, but none has been on clay. What's more, Tsonga has battled back from months of missed time due to injury and looks better than ever.
The 14th-seeded Tsonga is eyeing a return trip to the French Open semifinals and won't be denied. His big serve and powerful return game will be too much for Nishikori to overcome.
Prediction: Tsonga wins in four sets
No. 7 Ana Ivanovic vs. No. 19 Elina Svitolina
Ana Ivanovic's early-season struggles feel like decades ago, and she enters a quarterfinal meeting with 19th-seeded Elina Svitolina with plenty of momentum and confidence.
While most of the top seeds on the women's side are eliminated and the lone one still left—Williams—continues to struggle, Ivanovic has looked nothing short of dominant. She's been taken to three sets in three of her four matches at Roland Garros but has only seemed to raise her game in those moments.
Svitolina has been busy at Roland Garros as well, needing a 9-7 third-set win in the second round and an 11-9 tiebreaker in the fourth round. It's hard to see her having enough in the tank to overcome Ivanovic's energy.
The Serbian is a perfect 6-0 for her career against Svitolina and will have no real trouble making it seven.
Prediction: Ivanovic wins in straight sets