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SERENA OUT

Monday, 07 June 2021 | AFP | Paris

She becomes the second top ranked player to exit French Open

Serena Williams was stunned by 21st seed Elena Rybakina while Tamara Zidansek, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Paula Badosa reached the quarter-finals of this year’s French Open on Sunday.

The 39-year-old American’s quest for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title ended with a 6-3, 7-5. She has not gone beyond the fourth round at Roland Garros since losing the 2016 final.

The exit of Williams leaves just two of the women’s top 10 seeds in the competition, reigning champion Iga Swiatek and last year’s runner-up Sofia Kenin.

Russian-born Rybakina, 21, extended her best run at a Major as she advanced to her first quarter-final, where she will face Pavlyuchenkova for a spot in the last four.

Spaniard Badosa reached her first-ever Major quarters, Zidansek became the first woman from Slovenia to reach this stage as while Russia’s Pavlyuchenkova returned to the last eight at Roland Garros after a decade.

Pavlyuchenkova came from a set down beat Victoria Azarenka 5-7, 6-3, 6-2. She knocked out Aryna Sabalenka, the highest-ranked player left in the draw, in the previous round.

The Russian 31st seed broke former world No 1 Azarenka eight times to advance to her seventh Grand Slam quarter-final. She will play Serena Williams or Elena Rybakina for a place in the last four.

“It’s really incredible I’m still playing tennis 10 years later,” said Pavlyuchenkova, who turns 30 next month. “It’s a surprise for me to be here. I fought for each ball and each point and played very well.”

Pavlyuchenkova, who lost to eventual runner-up Francesca Schiavone here a decade ago, matched her best run at a Major.

She has made the last eight at all four Slams, including three of the past five Australian Opens.

World No 85 Zidansek won 7-6 (7/4), 6-1 and will face the in-form Badosa of Spain for a place in the semi-finals.

The 23-year-old had never previously got beyond the second round of a Grand Slam. However, she illustrated her potential by knocking out sixth-seeded former US Open winner Bianca Andreescu in the first round where she had twice been just two points from defeat.

“For me, the key was to start to really believe that I can beat the top players, to believe that I am better than them and that I belong there,” said the Slovenian.

Zidansek, a keen snowboarder in her winter off-time, finished runner-up on clay in Bogota in April.

However, before seeing off Andreescu in the first round in Paris, she had never defeated a top 10 player.

Badosa reached her first Grand Slam quarter-final by defeating 2019 runner-up Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic 6-4, 3-6, 6-2

The 23-year-old, a former junior champion at Roland Garros, is this season’s best performing clay court player.

She now has 17 wins against just two losses on the surface, a run which includes the Belgrade clay court title on the eve of the French Open.

In a women’s draw thrown wide open by the early exits of top three seeds Ashleigh Barty, Naomi Osaka and Aryna Sabalenka, the opportunities exist for a shock champion to emerge.

Tsitsipas, Daniil win

Second seed Daniil Medvedev of Russia made the French Open quarter-finals for the first time on Sunday while Greek fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas advanced to the last-eight stage for the second year running.

Medvedev, who had never won a match at Roland Garros before this year, defeated Cristian Garin of Chile 6-2, 6-1, 7-5 in his last 16 tie. Tsitsipas, a semi-finalist in 2020, eased past Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta 6-3, 6-2, 7-5.

Tsitsipas, 22, has reached the semi-finals at the past two majors, and was beaten in a thrilling five-setter by Novak Djokovic at last year’s Roland Garros. He has won a tour-leading 37 matches this season, including 20 on clay.

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