Serena Williams’ Win Sets Up Fourth Round Roland Garros Showdown Against Maria Sharapova; Halep, Nadal Advance
(June 2, 2018) The possibility of two former French Open champions meeting in the fourth round will be a reality on Monday. Three-time winner Serena Williams, playing her first major since returning from maternity leave, will face-off against two-time champion and 28th seed Maria Sharapova.
Coming into the tournament ranked in the 450s, unseeded Williams beat 11th seed Julia Goerges 6-3, 6-4 to reach the round of sixteen at Roland Garros.
The Williams-Sharapova head-to-head stands at 19-2. The last time Sharapova defeated Williams was at the 2004 Year-End Championships. The first time was the 2004 Wimbledon final. Williams last met Sharapova at the Australian Open in 2016, extending her streak over the Russian to 18 straight victories.
“Well, quite frankly, she’s probably a favorite in this match, for sure,” Williams said.
“You know, she’s been playing, like I said, for over a year now. I just started. So I’m just really trying to get my bearings and trying to feel out where I am and see where I can go.
“But I think this will be another test. I think this is just one of her best surfaces, and she always does really, really well here. So this would be a good opportunity for me kind of to see where I am and just hopefully continue to go forward.”
A reporter’s question about why Williams has dominated Sharapova turned into citing Sharapova’s answer in her book “Unstoppable,” which said that she heard Williams crying in the locker room after Sharapova won their 2004 Wimbledon final.
“I think the book was 100% hearsay, at least all the stuff I read and the quotes that I read, which was a little bit disappointing,” noted the American.
“You know, I have cried in the locker room many times after a loss, and that’s what I have seen a lot of people do. I think it’s normal. I think if anything, it shows the passion and the desire and, you know, the will that you have to want to go out there and do the best.
“It’s a Wimbledon final, you know. So it’s just, like, I think it would be more shocking if I wasn’t in tears. And I am emotional and I do have emotions and I wear them on my sleeve. You know, I’m human. So for me I think it’s totally normal. I think what happens there should definitely maybe stay there and not necessarily talk about it in a not-so-positive way in a book.”
Williams added later in her news conference: “So I don’t have any negative feelings towards her, which again, was a little disappointing to see in that hearsay book. So I have always, you know, and especially having a daughter, like, I feel like negativity is taught. One of the things I always say, I feel like women, especially, should bring each other up.
“You know, a lot of people always assume that I feel a different way and it’s not true. You know, if anything, I feel like we should encourage each other, and the success of one female should be the inspiration to another, and I have said that a thousand times. So for me, I always get inspired by other women that are doing well.
“Before her incident of drugs or not, you know, I just feel like she was, you know, doing good before that. So I feel like now she’s doing well again, and I have never had any hard feelings toward her.
“So I feel like whenever I play her, obviously I go out there the way I play everyone else. I go extremely hard, and, you know, I don’t play anyone different. I play everyone so hard because they play me really hard and I always have to be ready for it.”
“I mean, you know, as a fan, I wanted to read the book and I was really excited for it to come out and I was really happy for her.
“And then the book was a lot about me. I was surprised about that, to be honest. You know, I was, like, Oh, okay. I didn’t expect to be reading a book about me, that wasn’t necessarily true.
“So I was, like, this is really interesting, but, you know, I don’t know. I think maybe — I don’t know. I think maybe she — I didn’t know she looked up to me that much or was so involved in my career.”
In an earlier match, Sharapova dismantled sixth seed Karolina Pliskova 6-2, 6-1.
“So I thought I did a really good job of, you know, being aggressive on the return, giving her different looks on the return,” said the five-time major winner. “And, yeah, I was solid. I played smart. I think I did the right things, I was aggressive on the break points, I went for it. I took the match rather than her giving it to me.”
As for playing Williams next, the Russian said: “I think any time you play against Serena you know what you’re up against.
“You know the challenge that is upon you. You know, despite the record that I have against her, I always look forward to coming out on the court and competing against the best player. I will look forward to doing that.
The last time the two women played it was at the 2016 Australian Open: ”Well, it’s been a while, and I think a lot has happened in our lives for the both of us in very different ways,” said Sharapova.
“But, yeah, I’m not someone, you know, I have spoken about that chapter for a long time now, and to be able to put myself back in these positions and to not shy away from these moments, to come out on center court and want the challenge of moving forward and to be able to face Serena, I think that speaks for itself.”
“I think no matter what the occasion is, what tournament, Grand Slam, of course, it’s, you know, there is more focus on a Grand Slam environment of a match. But when I’m facing against Serena or we happen to be in a similar quarter of the draw, there is much more attention toward that. That’s not a secret for anyone in this room,” Sharapova said in her news conference.
“Like I said, no matter the record against her, I still come into this tournament and want to put myself in the position to play against the best. By coming out in the match today and beating the No. 6 in the world, I might have the opportunity to do that. That’s what I continue to do. That’s why I keep on playing.”
“I think there is a lot of things in her game that she’s done much better than I have. I mean, the records don’t certainly elaborate on that. Numbers don’t lie.
“But of course, I came into Europe and Stuttgart with not a great record, not playing great tennis with a lot of injuries, and have been able to turn that around a little bit. Been able to put myself in this position of playing better tennis. That’s what I continue to work for, of course. You don’t put those hours on the back courts in Bradenton-fricking-Florida to — you know what I mean — to just show up at events like this and not bring it.”
In other women’s action, top seed Simona Halep beat Andrea Petkovic 7-5, 6-0, third seed Garbine Muguruza demolished Samantha Stosur 6-0, 6-2, 10th seed Sloane Stephens won the last three straight games to beat Camila Giorgi 4-6, 6-1, 8-6, and 12th seed Angelique Kerber stopped 18th seed Kiki Bertens 7-6 (4), 7-6 (4).
Twenty-fifth seed Anett Kontaveit upset 8th seed Petra Kvitova 7-6 (6), 7-6 (4) to reach the fourth round, along with the last French singles player Caroline Garcia.
Top Half R16 set for Monday.
 Halep vs.  Mertens (1-0)
 Garcia vs.  Kerber (2-4)
 Muguruza vs. Tsurenko (1-1)
Serena vs.  Sharapova (19-2)#RG18 https://t.co/Z791LUV0dr
— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) June 2, 2018
In men’s play, 10-time Roland Garros champion Rafael Nadal dismissed Richard Gasquet 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 and gave a ball boy a moment of a lifetime:
Léo, ballkid, had a nice moment with @RafaelNadal !
Après sa victoire contre Richard Gasquet, Rafa Nadal a joué avec Léo, ramasseur de balles ! ?❤️#RG18 pic.twitter.com/HDNz5bdFs5
— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) June 2, 2018
Other men advancing to the fourth round:
Third seed Marin Cilic beat Steve Johnson 6-3, 6-2, 6-4, at the French Open.
David Goffin saved four match points, in defeating Frenchman Gael Monfils 6-7 (6), 6-3, 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, Juan Martin Del Potro beat No. 31
7-5, 6-4, 6-1,
US Open runner-up Kevin Anderson beat Mischa Zverev 6-1, 6-7 (3), 6-3, 7-6 (4).
Fabio Fognini stopped16th-seeded Kyle Edmund 6-3, 4-6, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4.
Ninth-seeded John Isner is the last American man standing in the French Open defeating the last French man Pierre-Hugues Herbert 7-6 (1), 6-4, 7-6 (4).
Unseeded Karen Khachanov sent 15th-seeded Lucas Pouille home with a 6-3, 7-5, 6-3 win.
#RG18 last 16 ?
?? Nadal v Marterer ??
?? Schwartzman v Anderson ??
?? Cilic v Fognini ??
?? Isner v Del Potro ??
?? Goffin v Cecchinato ??
?? Djokovic v Verdasco ??
?? Thiem v Nishikori ??
?? Khachanov v Zverev ??
Choose your last eight…
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) June 2, 2018