The third round action at Roland Garros continues on Saturday with both top seeds – Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams – in action at some point during the day.
The big news from Friday was that nine-time champion Rafael Nadal‘s bid to become to first player to win a single grand slam title 10 times has sadly come to an end. The Spaniard withdrew from his match that was scheduled for the day against Marcel Granollers-Pujol with a wrist injury.
Nadal’s exit certainly opens up the draw significantly…
On Philippe Chatrier Court, eighth seed Timea Bacsinzsky takes on one of the local contingent Pauline Parmentier, before world number one Williams faces another French player, Kristina Mladenovic.
The matches continue thick and fast on Philippe Chatrier, with French number one Jo-Wilfried Tsonga coming up against Ernests Gulbis. The sixth seed came through a marathon five-setter against Marcos Baghdatis on Thursday, and will certainly hope to have an easier match against Gulbis, as his quest to become France’s first male winner since Yannick Noah in 1983 continues.
Thereafter, Djokovic faces British Davis Cup member Aljaz Bedene. The Serb is a three-time runner-up in Paris – the only one of the sport’s major’s he hasn’t won – and in the absence of the likes of Nadal and Roger Federer, who withdrew prior to the event – the world’s best player must feel the stars are aligning for him this time around.
Over on Suzanne Lenglen, two of our matches of the day dominate the proceedings, as talented youngsters Alexander Zverev and Dominic Thiem battle it out for a spot in the last 16, after which former world number one Venus Williams faces yet another French lady, Alize Cornet. But more on these two matches below.
David Goffin then takes on Nicolas Almagro and Monica Puig comes up against Madison Keys.
On Court 1, Elina Svitolina faces former winner Ana Ivanovic, one-time runner-up David Ferrer Feliciano Lopez, perennial top-tenner Tomas Berdych plays Pablo Cuevas and the winner of the 2014 junior title Daria Kasatkina plays Belgium’s Kiki Bertens. The young Russian is another one to watch, if not this year definitely in the near future.
Matches to watch
Zverev v Thiem
This might seem like something of a strange selection here considering the stature of some of the other men in action, but this one might give us a looking into the future of men’s tennis.
Zverev, a 19-year-old German, is the youngest player ranked in the top 50 and has already been billed as a future world number one. At just under two metres tall, Zverev was a star on the junior tour before turning pro in 2010. So far his only successes have come on the Challenger Tour, but one can’t help but feel its only a matter of time before he adds ATP Tour silverware to his locker.
The 22-yearold Thiem, meanwhile, is a little but further along in his career and has six ATP titles to his name. Thiem has already beaten Federer, Nadal and Ferrer at various points this year and claimed three-set win over Zverev at Nice in the build-up to the tournament.
Both players have great serves and strong ground strokes, but Thiem is perhaps the more accomplished clay-courter and probably starts this one as favourite.
Venus Williams v Cornet
Williams, the 2002 winner at Roland Garros, has quietly gone about her business in Paris so far this week and have reached the third round there for the first time since 2010.
At 35 years of age, the older of the women’s sisters in action on Saturday is in the swansong of her career, and perhaps doesn’t have the stamina to go all the way any more on the slow red clay, but as her second round win over Louisa Chirico showed, she still packs a punch.
Cornet goes into the match in the middle of a cheating storm, after she was accused by her second round opponent Tatjana Maria of faking an injury. At one stage, the French player called for the trainer and appeared to grimace in pain, but her German opponent believes the time-out was called so that she would have more time for her cramps to ease.
Accusations of cheating on the tennis court tends to stick around for a while and one has to wonder what the reaction would be should Cornet call for the trainer again this tournament…
FOX Sports 2
Elina SVITOLINA (UKR) vs Ana IVANOVIC (SRB)
Pauline Parmentier (FRA) vs. Timea Bacsinszky (SUI) (if still in play)
Serena Williams (USA) vs. Kristina Mladenovic (FRA)
Ernests Gulbis (LAT) vs. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA)
Novak Djokovic (SRB) vs. Aljaz Bedene (GBR)
FOX Sports 3
Alexander ZVEREV (GER) vs Dominic THIEM (AUT)
Venus WILLIAMS (USA) vs Alize CORNET (FRA)
David GOFFIN (BEL) vs Nicolas ALMAGRO (ESP)
Monica PUIG (PUR) vs Madison KEYS (USA)
Experience the full, extensive coverage of Roland Garros 2016 for two entire weeks on FOX Sports Play, where you can watch all the matches, highlights, interviews, bloopers and much more. Don’t miss it!