Tennis  

Nadal motors into quarters, Wozniacki tops ex-champ

Spain’s Rafael Nadal celebrates after winning his tennis match against Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut at the Roland Garros 2017 French Open on June 4, 2017 in Paris. FRANCOIS XAVIER MARIT / AFP

Nine-time champion Rafael Nadal surged into the French Open quarter-finals for a record-equalling 11th time on Sunday, while Caroline Wozniacki reached the last eight after ousting 2009 champion Svetlana Kuznetsova.

Nadal continued his ruthless form at Roland Garros by dispatching Spanish 17th seed Roberto Bautista Agut 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 to match Roger Federer’s mark of last-eight appearances in Paris.

The 14-time major winner is yet to drop a set, conceding just six games in the last two rounds as he strives to become the first man to win 10 titles at a single Grand Slam.

“I’m happy because Roberto is a very good player. It’s very important for me to be in the quarter-finals one more time,” said Nadal, who turned 31 on Saturday.

Defending champion Novak Djokovic will also become an 11-time quarter-finalist in Paris if he defeats Spain’s Albert Ramos-Vinolas later Sunday.

Japan’s Kei Nishikori fought off a fierce five-set challenge from rising South Korean talent Hyeon Chung to clinch a place in the last 16.

Eighth seed Nishikori led two sets to one but trailed by a double break at 3-0 down in the fourth set when rain halted play on Saturday.

Chung forced the contest into a deciding set as play resumed on Sunday, but the world number 67 double faulted on match point to gift Nishikori a 7-5, 6-4, 6-7 (4/7), 0-6, 6-4 victory.

“I think the rain helps me a lot, because I was really down in the fourth set and mentally I wasn’t ready,” admitted Nishikori.

“I knew I had to change something to beat him today, so I think I made some adjustments to make little better than yesterday.”

– ‘Second chance’ –

It was the first third-round meeting between two Asian players at Roland Garros, with 2014 US Open finalist Nishikori going on to play Fernando Verdasco for a place in the quarter-finals.

Karen Khachanov will play Andy Murray in the fourth round after the giant Russian beat American 21st seed John Isner 7-6 (7/1), 6-3, 6-7 (5/7), 7-6 (7/3).

Wozniacki became the first woman through to the quarter-finals as the Danish 11th seed dumped out Kuznetsova 6-1, 4-6, 6-2.

Wozniacki, who made her only other last-eight appearance at Roland Garros in 2010, will meet either Australia’s Samantha Stosur or Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia for a semi-final place.

“Svetlana’s a great player, especially on clay so I knew it wouldn’t be easy,” said Wozniacki, a two-time US Open runner-up.

Second seed Karolina Pliskova advanced to round four with a 7-5, 6-1 victory over Germany’s Carina Witthoeft.

Pliskova, who had won just twice in five previous French Open appearances before this year, will face Paraguay’s Veronica Cepede Royg for a quarter-final spot.

World number 290 and qualifier Petra Martic reached the last 16 with a 6-1, 6-1 win over Latvian 17th seed Anastasija Sevastova.

Croatia’s Martic, a former top 50 player whose ranking slumped after a back injury sidelined her for 10 months, will face Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina.

“When I got injured, my only hope was that I would get a second chance so I can play some of my best tennis again,” said Martic.

“I still can’t believe that I’m sitting here.”

Fifth seed Svitolina downed Magda Linette of Poland 6-4, 7-5



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