Roland Garros Rewind: Wawrinka Wins Thriller; Djokovic Finishes Strong; Sharapova, Azarenka, Nadal Cruise on Monday
From 256 players to 16, the Roland Garros draws keep shrinking. We keep returning to keep you updated on the latest attrition.
Match of the day: After Richard Gasquet had won his first eleven sets of the tournament, he lost the plot just long enough for Stanislas Wawrinka to reset himself. Once again, Gasquet allowed a two-set lead to evaporate at a major. But he battled valiantly to the end, only succumbing 8-6 in the fifth as Wawrinka reached his first Roland Garros quarterfinal.
Most improved: The outlook is not bright for Wawrinka in the next round, however, for he faces a rejuvenated Rafael Nadal. The birthday boy celebrated turning 27 with his most emphatic win of the tournament, finally delivering sustained quality from start to finish. Nadal will have one more tune-up before the Friday battle with his archrival.
Least improved: That is, assuming that Novak Djokovic reaches that stage. The death of his former coach predictably took its toll on his game in a four-set victory over Philipp Kohlschreiber, who converted only two of thirteen break points. Djokovic asserted that his motivation to win here had risen rather than dulled, but he rarely has produced his best tennis in situations of personal turmoil.
Stat of the day: Not since 1971 had a man as old as Tommy Haas reached the quarterfinals of Roland Garros. But the German achieved that feat for the first time in 12 appearances, crushing Mikhail Youzhny in straight sets two days after saving a match point against John Isner.
Question of the day: Haas dominated Djokovic in Miami this spring. Can he repeat the feat when they meet in the quarterfinals?
Match of the day: None. All of the higher-ranked women won in straight sets to leave Svetlana Kuznetsova the only unseeded quarterfinalist in either draw.
Most improved: Into her third quarterfinal here, Victoria Azarenka improved to 11-0 at major this year by sweeping nine straight games from 2010 champion Francesca Schiavone. Azarenka had descended from second-round frailty to third-round fecklessness, so this authoritative fourth-round display came as a welcome relief to her fans. She will seek her first Roland Garros semifinal against Maria Kirilenko.
Americans in Paris: Down they went like dominoes, none able to win a set from their fourth-round opponents. Bethanie Mattek-Sands could solve Li Na but not Maria Kirilenko, while Jamie Hampton could solve Petra Kvitova but not Jelena Jankovic. When Tuesday dawns in Paris, Serena Williams will fly the stars and stripes all by herself. To be honest, though, nobody would have expected any Americans other than Serena to reach the middle weekend.
Stat of the day: Marching ever further into her title defense, Maria Sharapova recorded her 33rd consecutive victory on clay (and 43rd in her last 44 matches) against opponents other than Serena. The best clay winning percentage of any active woman got a little better when she swatted Sloane Stephens aside with a much stronger serving display than in her previous two matches.
Question of the day: All of the top four women have reached the quarterfinals, three without losing a set. Can any of their opponents forestall a semifinal convergence?