British teenager Emma Raducanu was forced to retire from her Wimbledon fourth-round match against Ajla Tomljanovic.

The 18-year-old had provided one of the stories of the tournament on her major debut at the All England Club.

Raducanu bravely battled in the first set against an opponent ranked 263 places above her, only to finally be broken and lose the opener 6-4 on 'Manic Monday'.

Tomljanovic seized a swift lead in the second, too, up 3-0 when Raducanu called for treatment.

She appeared to have a stomach issue and sobbed in her seat before retreating inside, with confirmation of her retirement soon following.

"I'm actually really kind of shocked," Tomljanovic said.

"It's obviously so bittersweet because Emma must be really, really hurt if she came to the decision to retire. I know to play as a Brit at home it's unbelievable.

"I'm really sorry for her because I wish we could have finished it. But it's sport, it happens, so I'm really wishing her all the best."

Tomljanovic can set her sights on an exciting first Wimbledon quarter-final against fellow Australian Ash Barty, the world number one.

Top seed Ash Barty ended Barbora Krejcikova's long winning run to reach her first Wimbledon singles quarter-final.

Krejcikova had reeled off 15 consecutive singles victories but the French Open champion was beaten 7-5 6-3 in an entertaining contest on No.1 Court.

World number one Barty came from a break down to take the opening set and was pushed hard by the 14th seed in the second on 'Manic Monday', but sealed her spot in the last eight at the All England Club.

The 2019 Roland Garros champion will face either British teenager Emma Raducanu or fellow Australian Ajla Tomljanovic for a place in the semi-finals.

Krejcikova, making her main draw debut in singles at SW19, held to love in a commanding first service game and went a break up at 2-1 when Barty pushed a cross-court shot long.

There was a gasp from the crowd when Krejcikova showed great skill and agility to put away a winner at her feet, but they were back on serve at 4-4 following an error-strewn game from the Czech.

Barty missed a chance to wrap up the set when she sent a forehand long but the 25-year-old pumped her fist after breaking to love, avoiding a tie-break after making an uncertain start.

Both players stood firm when they faced early break points in the second set but Barty was scenting the quarter-finals when her opponent sprayed a forehand wide to go 4-2 down.

Krejcikova – who also won a doubles title in Paris last month – took that setback in her stride, working Barty from side to side before putting away a backhand winner in the next game as she broke back immediately.

Yet Barty ground Krejcikova down again to restore her two-game advantage and fended off a break point before serving out the match to move into new territory at the grass-court grand slam.

 

Data Slam: Krejcikova's hot streak ends

Krejcikova had not suffered a singles defeat since May, winning a title in Strasbourg before her maiden grand slam triumph at Roland Garros.

Her magnificent winning streak came to an end in London, but the Brno native looks set to make further major strides.

 

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Barty – 22/24
Krejcikova – 19/22

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Barty –7/5
Krejcikova – 4/4

BREAK POINTS WON
Barty – 4/7
Krejcikova – 2/10

Elina Svitolina admitted she was "not really in a good place" after losing in straight sets to Magda Linette in the second round at Wimbledon.

Third seed Svitolina became the latest big name in the women's draw to exit early at SW19, going down 6-3 6-4 on Thursday.

Linette claimed her first win over a top-10 player in some style, too, the world number 44 needing just 65 minutes to come out on top, aided by converting three of nine break-point chances she created against an out-of-sorts opponent.

For Svitolina, the result comes as she deals with a tough period in her career. The Ukrainian exited in the last 16 at Eastbourne ahead of the third grand slam of the season, while she was knocked out in the third round at the French Open.

"Mentally, I was not really in a good place. When you play a grand slam it's a different kind of pressure. Sometimes it's tough to handle but it's part of the job - it is part of the grand slam," she said after the defeat on grass.

"You have to try to be strong, try to be good to yourself and try to overcome the fears, the difficulties. Today probably I was not fresh mentally to do that.

"Right now I wouldn't say it's very smooth times in my career. It's a tough time, but I have been in these situations in my career a few times."

Svitolina's exit means just four of the top eight seeds are left standing. Sofia Kenin and Bianca Andreescu both went out in the opening round, while Serena Williams was forced to retire due to injury in the first set against Aliaksandra Sasnovich.

However, top seed Ashleigh Barty remains in the running, the Australian seeing off Anna Blinkova in straight sets on Centre Court.

While her serve faltered, Barty had too much power as she clinched a 6-4 6-3 result that sets up a meeting with Katerina Siniakova in the third round.

Carla Suarez Navarro described herself as the happiest player in the tournament despite her Wimbledon defeat to Ash Barty, who said it was a privilege to share the court with the retiring Spaniard.

Suarez Navarro was diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma in September last year, just months after announcing her intention to retire.

She delayed her retirement and, after being given the all-clear in April, began a farewell tour at the French Open that will end with the year's final grand slam, the US Open, which starts in August.

Having lost to Sloane Stephens at Roland Garros, Suarez Navarro took a set off world number one Barty on Centre Court, before eventually suffering a 6-1 6-7 (1-7) 6-1 defeat.

Barty and the Wimbledon crowd gave her a standing ovation as Suarez Navarro left the court, ensuring it was a day she will never forget.

"Wimbledon make me a really good gift," Suarez Navarro told a media conference. 

"I cannot ask for anything else better than this day, one of my last match here, against Ash, world number one, Centre Court, with the roof, was amazing.

"Today I am the most happy player in the tournament. The crowd was amazing, was fantastic, I'm in love with this tournament, this court and this crowd."

Barty said of the former world number six: "She's a hell of a competitor, hell of a fighter, it was a privilege to be able to share that moment, share that court with her today.

"I hadn't had the opportunity to play Carla and it was really special to experience what she can bring from the other side of the court.

"All credit goes to her for her resilience and her nature as a competitor to be able to come back from the adversity that she has and to be able to have that moment with her was nothing shy of remarkable.

"I just said to her it was a pleasure to share the court with you, she's an exceptional person, a great fighter, a great competitor and very well respected in the locker room.

"She's going to be sorely missed, I just wanted to give her the appreciation that she thoroughly deserves, I didn't know what else to do, I wanted to give her a hug and just say congratulations on an exceptional, remarkable career."

Barty will face Anna Blinkova in the second round.

After an enforced hiatus in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, tennis returns to SW19.

Novak Djokovic makes his way back to Wimbledon as the defending champion and with the men's grand slam record firmly in his sight.

Djokovic conquered Rafael Nadal en route to French Open glory and his 19th slam crown – one shy of the record shared by rivals Nadal and Roger Federer.

With Nadal and Dominic Thiem absent, Djokovic's path to a 20th major trophy has opened up in London.

The women's title is up for grabs after holder Simona Halep withdrew, and Serena Williams can still dream of making history.

As all eyes shift to the All England Club, Stats Perform looks at the numbers behind this year's slam, using Opta data.

 

Dominant Djokovic

World number one and top seed Djokovic begins his title defence against promising Briton Jack Draper in the first round.

French Open champion Djokovic has won four of the last six Wimbledon tournaments, including each of the past two – the last player to win more at Wimbledon in a row was Federer between 2003 and 2007 (five).

A five-time Wimbledon winner, Djokovic is the only man to have won the first two grand slam tournaments of a calendar year over the last 25 years, doing it in 2016 and 2021. The last man to win the first three grand slams of a calendar year was Rod Laver during his Grand Slam in 1969.

The 2019 Wimbledon final was the first slam decider to be decided by a final set tie-break, with Djokovic beating Federer 7-3 in that tiebreak, while it was also the longest final in Wimbledon history (four hours, 57 minutes).

No man has won Roland Garros and Wimbledon in the same year since Nadal in 2010.

 

Federer farewell?

The curtain appears to be closing on all-time great Federer, who withdrew from the French Open after a draining four-set win over Dominik Koepfer to preserve his body for the grass season.

This year's Wimbledon could be the 39-year-old's final realistic shot at a grand slam as Djokovic bids to become the greatest of all.

Seeded sixth, Federer – who meets Adrian Mannarino first up – has won the most Wimbledon titles among all male players in the slam's history.

Federer will aim to win his 21st grand slam, which would break a tie with Nadal for the outright men's record.

 

The 'Big Four' and their stranglehold

Injuries have forced two-time Wimbledon champion Andy Murray to fall out of the equation but there has been no getting past the original 'Big Four'.

Among the men, the last 17 years of Wimbledon has been dominated by the same four players – Federer (eight titles), Djokovic (five), Nadal (two), Murray (two). The last winner at Wimbledon before them was Lleyton Hewitt in 2002.

Since Wimbledon in 2004, only one of the 68 slams has not seen at least one of Federer, Djokovic and Nadal in the semi-finals – it was at the US Open last year.

The new generation is headlined by grand slam runners-up Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Medvedev has never passed the third round at Wimbledon, though his two defeats at that stage have both been in five sets. The Russian second seed has reached at least the quarter-finals in three of his last four major tournaments, after reaching that stage in only one of his previous 13.

Beaten by Djokovic in the Roland Garros final, Tsitsipas has reached the semi-finals in his last three slams, having done so only once in his previous 12. The third seed has never reached the quarter-finals at Wimbledon, however.

Wimbledon is the only slam where fourth seed Alexander Zverev is yet to reach the quarter-final, his best result being a fourth-round performance in 2017. Since the beginning of 2020, he has advanced to the semi-finals in three slam tournaments, after never doing it in his previous 18 such major main-draw appearances.

 

Serena's ongoing quest

The queen of WTA tennis for so long, Serena Williams is one slam success away from matching Margaret Court's record of 24 major singles championships. But the 39-year-old has been stuck on 23 since reigning supreme at the Australian Open in 2017.

Williams, who lost in the French Open fourth round, has won seven Wimbledon titles (level with Steffi Graf) – only Martina Navratilova has more in the Open Era (nine).

American superstar Williams has been a Wimbledon runner-up in 2018 and 2019. Chris Evert is the only player in the Open Era to have lost three consecutive Wimbledon finals (between 1978 and 1980).

Williams, the sixth seed who will clash with Aliaksandra Sasnovich in the opening round, is looking to become only the second woman to win 100 Wimbledon singles matches (currently 98), alongside Navratilova (120). She could also become the first woman to reach 100-plus wins in two different majors (106 wins at the US Open).

From the first Wimbledon final reached by one Williams sister in 2000 (won by Venus against Lindsay Davenport), only in four of 20 editions has neither of the two sisters reached the decider – in 2006 (Amelie Mauresmo-Justine Henin), 2011 (Petra Kvitova-Maria Sharapova), 2013 (Marion Bartoli-Sabine Lisicki) and 2014 (Kvitova-Eugenie Bouchard).

 

Barty party?

Former French Open champion Ash Barty heads to Wimbledon as the top seed and will kick off her title bid against veteran Carla Suarez Navarro.

However, world number one Barty has never reached the Wimbledon quarter-finals. Reaching the 2019 fourth round was her best result. The last Australian woman to reach the quarters at Wimbledon was Jelena Dokic in 2000.

The top seed in the Wimbledon women's singles main draw has been eliminated in the first round just three times in the Open Era – Graf in 1994, Martina Hingis in 1999 and Hingis again in 2001.

Wimbledon is the only major won by Kvitova in her career (2011 and 2014). She is one among the three current players with multiple titles at the All England Club, alongside Serena and Venus Williams.

Karolina Pliskova was the woman with the most aces per match made on average at Wimbledon 2019 (9.0, 36 in total) among players who reached the third round.

Novak Djokovic will start the defence of his Wimbledon title against British wildcard Jack Draper, and Serena Williams takes on Aliaksandra Sasnovich in the first round.

Djokovic is just one grand slam title away from matching Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal's record tally of 20 after winning the Australian Open and French Open this year.

The world number one will take on 19-year-old Draper, a quarter-finalist at Queen's Club last week, in his first match at SW19 for two years after the 2020 championships were called off due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Djokovic faces a potential quarter-final against Andrey Rublev, while Federer could come up against second seed Daniil Medvedev in last eight.

 

First up for eight-time Wimbledon champion Federer is an encounter with Adrian Mannarino, while injury-plagued two-time winner Andy Murray will start his home major against the 24th seed Nikoloz Basilashvili.

Stefanos Tsitsipas, beaten by Djokovic in a thrilling French Open final this month, has been drawn to face American Frances Tiafoe in round one of a tournament that gets under way on Monday.

Simona Halep announced just before the draw was made on Friday that she would not defend her title due to a calf injury.

Williams, runner-up to Halep in the 2019 final, must get past Sasnovich of Belarus in the first round and could face third seed Elina Svitolina at the quarter-final stage.

World number one and top seed Ash Barty takes on Carla Suarez Navarro, who made a grand slam return at Roland Garros after recovering from cancer. Barty could come up against Bianca Andreescu in the last eight.

Petra Kvitova against Sloane Stephens is a standout first-round match, while Coco Gauff's first assignment will be a meeting with 20-year-old Briton Fran Jones.

Ashleigh Barty described her retirement from Thursday's second-round clash against Magda Linette at the French Open as "heartbreaking". 

Top seed Barty required medical attention during her first-round win over Bernarda Pera two days earlier, with a hip injury the cause for concern.

The 25-year-old – back at Roland Garros for the first time since winning her maiden grand slam title in Paris in 2019 – vowed to "play through the pain barrier", yet the injury prevented her from continuing when 1-6 2-2 down against her Polish opponent, who will face Ons Jabeur in the next round. 

The Australian's retirement throws the draw wide open, with both of the top seeds now out after Naomi Osaka decided to withdraw amid her disagreement with tournament organisers.

Barty's clay-court season ended with a title in Stuttgart, a runner-up finish in Madrid and an appearance in the quarter-finals in Rome, and she could scarcely hide her disappointment at the way things ended for her in the French capital. 

"It's heartbreaking," she told a media conference. "I mean, we have had such a brilliant clay-court season, and to get a little bit unlucky with timing and have something acute happen over the weekend and just kind of run out of time against the clock is disappointing. 

"It won't take away the brilliant three months that we have had, as much as it hurts right now.

"We did everything, absolutely everything we could to give myself a chance. It was a small miracle that we were able to get on court for that first round.

"I just tried to give myself a chance and see how it felt. Obviously practicing, we've had our restrictions and essentially tried to stay as fresh as possible and not aggravate it in any way, but in a match that's unavoidable at times.

"It got worse today and it was becoming at the stage where it was unsafe. As hard as it is, it had to be done. Right from the first game, I was battling the pain, and it just became too severe."

SVITOLINA CRUISES THROUGH, PLISKOVA DUMPED OUT

Fifth seed Elina Svitolina booked a third-round meeting with Barbora Krejcikova after seeing off Ann Li 6-0 6-4. 

Svitolina landed 74 per cent of her first serves and struck 10 winners to cruise past the American in the opening set. 

Li bounced back in the second, roaring into a 4-1 lead, but Svitolina clawed her way back to ensure she reached at least the third round in seven of her nine appearances at Roland Garros. 

Svitolina, who overturned a 2-5 deficit in the second set to beat Oceane Babel in the first round, said: "In the end, what I'm really happy with is the way that I was down in both matches in the second set and found a way. 

"I found a good level and didn't give up on the second set. That was a really good point for me, and I was really playing composed in both matches. It was two different players, but I was really happy that I could win in two sets in both matches."

Up next is Krejcikova, who overcame Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-2 6-3.

There is no place in the third round for ninth seed Karolina Pliskova, who was soundly beaten 7-5 6-1 by Sloane Stephens, while number 13 seed Jennifer Brady battled past Fiona Ferro 6-1 1-6 6-4. 

KENIN WINS BATTLE OF THE AMERICANS

Fourth seed Sofia Kenin defeated fellow American Hailey Baptiste, a qualifier who won four matches in Paris on her French Open debut, 7-5 6-3. 

Kenin will now face another compatriot in 28th seed Jessica Pegula, who beat Tereza Martincova 6-3 6-3.

Elsewhere, defending champion Iga Swiatek thumped Rebecca Peterson 6-1 6-1, Coco Gauff got the better of Wang Qiang 6-3 7-6 (7-1), and Elise Mertens edged out Zarina Diyas 6-4 2-6 6-4.

Ashleigh Barty's French Open campaign came to an end in sad circumstances on Thursday as the world number one was forced to retire hurt when 1-6 2-2 down against Magda Linette.

Barty required medical attention during her first-round win over Bernarda Pera two days earlier, with a hip injury a cause for concern.

The 25-year-old – back at Roland Garros for the first time since winning her maiden grand slam title in Paris in 2019 – vowed to "play through the pain barrier", yet the injury proved too much to deal with on Thursday.

Barty's retirement throws the draw wide open, with both of the top seeds now out after Naomi Osaka decided to withdraw amid her disagreement with tournament organisers.

Barty's discomfort seemed evident from the off, though Linette did have to fend off an immediate break point to hold in the first game.

The Australian had to claw back three break points on her first serve, however, and a double fault in game four handed Linette the first break, with Barty clearly struggling when attempting to twist to her right.

A lame backhand into the net gifted Linette another break, and the Pole served out the set at the first time of asking with just 36 minutes on the clock.

After a lengthy delay in which she received treatment both on court and back in the changing rooms, Barty returned with seemingly renewed vigour to hold the first game of set two with relative ease.

Linette, though, kept her composure, with a couple of aces helping her level things up, and despite winning the next game thanks to her speed of serve, Barty was grimacing again.

Some excellent returns from Barty kept Linette at bay, but the world number 45 struck a powerful serve down the middle to make it 2-2, and that proved the final straw for her opponent, who shook hands at the net and, with a wave to the crowd, trudged down the tunnel.

DATA SLAM: BARTY'S BRAVE FACE NOT ENOUGH

Linette has claimed one of the biggest wins of her career, though the 29-year-old would have wished for it to come in more glorious circumstances. Barty tried her best to continue, but the injury was having too much of an impact on the key parts of her game – she made four double faults to Linette's zero, and tallied up 18 unforced errors, double the amount of her opponent.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Barty – 9/18
Linette – 12/9

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Barty – 2/4
Linette – 4/0

BREAK POINTS WON
Barty – 0/1
Linette – 2/7

Ashleigh Barty acknowledged it will be a "tough" week for her at the French Open as she plans to play through the pain at Roland Garros.

Barty – champion in Paris back in 2019 – had to take a medical time out during her first-round tie with Bernarda Pera on Tuesday.

The Australian world number one struggled with a hip issue, yet still progressed with a 6-4 3-6 6-2 win.

"It's going to be a little bit tough this week. I think over the weekend we had a bit of a flare-up through my left hip, which obviously just needed a bit of help today, needed some assistance to try and release it off as best I could," the 25-year-old said in her post-match news conference.

"I'm not going to hide behind the fact I'm not quite 100 per cent but I can guarantee that I will go out there with the right attitude every day and be really accepting of that and give it a crack no matter what.

"We're confident in that we can get my body to a point where I'm able to compete. We're here, we're fighting, we're in with a chance, and that's all we can do."

Magda Linette is next up for Barty on Thursday, the Polish player defeating Chloe Paquet in straight sets.

COCO CARRIES ON HER FORM AS SEEDS REACH ROUND TWO

Fresh from her triumph in both the singles and doubles in Parma, and a run to the Internazionali BNL d'Italia semi-finals, Coco Gauff started her campaign with a tough win over qualifier Aleksandra Krunic.

Gauff, the 24th seed, certainly had to do it the hard way, with the 17-year-old clawing back four set points in the opener, but some brilliant first serves – she landed 71 per cent of them – got her through in straight sets.

It brought up Gauff's first win at a grand slam as a seed. She is ranked at 25th in the world, making her the youngest American woman to make it into the top 25 since Serena Williams in 1998. 

Wang Qiang will face Gauff in round two in what is a repeat of the Parma final.

Meanwhile, three other big names also made it through. Former world number one and 2017 French Open semi-finalist Karolina Pliskova overcame her close friend Donna Vekic 7-5 6-4, while fellow Czech Karolina Muchova came from behind to beat Andrea Petkovic 1-6 6-3 6-4.

With Petkovic's exit, there are no female players from Germany in the second round at Roland Garros for the first time since 1958.

Fifth seed Elina Svitolina is also through to round two after coming back from a break down in the second set to beat teenager Oceane Babel 6-2 7-5.

"It's a first time for her to play here in the main draw of the grand slam and to face the sixth player in the world it's extremely tough," Svitolina said of her young opponent.

"I think she dealt very well with it and she went for her shots in the second set and made life very difficult for me."

SUAREZ NAVARRO MAKES COMEBACK

Carla Suarez Navarro overcame Hodgkin lymphoma earlier this year, after revealing last September that she had been diagnosed with the rare cancer.

Suarez Navarro won that battle and is now cancer free, but in what she said will be her last appearance at Roland Garros, she slipped to a defeat to 2018 finalist Sloane Stephens.

The Spaniard took the first set 6-3 and forced a tiebreaker in the second, but it was Stephens who edged it before taking that momentum into the decider to claim a 3-6 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 win.

World number one Ash Barty battled through injury and a stubborn opponent in Bernarda Pera on Tuesday to advance to round two of the French open in three sets.

Barty, who missed out on the chance of defending her title at Roland Garros last year due to coronavirus restrictions, struggled with a back issue but still prevailed 6-4 3-6 6-2.

The top seed had 18 winners to 25 unforced errors as she made it eight wins in Paris, where either Magda Linette or Chloe Paquet await in the next round.

She had little trouble in seeing out the first set, hitting 80 per cent of her first serves, but she became passive from that point on and her opponent took advantage in the second set.

World number 70 Pera earned the only break in the second game and took her second set point to level up the contest.

Barty then had a scare as she called a medical time out at the beginning of the deciding set, but she looked a lot more focused from that point on.

The Australian saved the two break points she faced and broke Pera in the sixth and eighth games to pick up the victory in exactly two hours.

"This court is very close to my heart," Barty said in her on-court interview. "It's so nice to play here in front of fans, you make it enjoyable for players. 

"Thank you very much. I just keep fighting. I was able to build more pressure in the third set which was important but Bernarda played an incredible match."

In this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes – a statement largely true until Rafael Nadal emerged on the scene and made the French Open his own.

Since breaking through for his first Roland Garros triumph in 2005, only three other men – Roger Federer, Stan Wawrinka and Novak Djokovic – have managed to interrupt Nadal's dominance in Paris.

Nadal has won 13 French Open men's singles titles, seven more than any other player in the Open era (Bjorn Borg, six) heading into this year's edition.

Despite being seeded third, it would take a brave person to bet against defending champion Nadal adding to his mammoth and unprecedented haul in the French capital, where the second grand slam of the year gets underway on Sunday.

On the women's side, defending champion Iga Swiatek is looking to follow in the footsteps of Belgian great Justine Henin.

As all eyes shift to Court Philippe Chatrier and its surroundings, Stats Perform looks at the numbers behind this year's slam, using Opta data.

 

The 'King of Clay'

Nadal will open his title defence against Australian Alexei Popyrin. Since 2000, only Nadal (13) and Gustavo Kuerten (two) have won the French Open more than once.

The 34-year-old swept aside world number one Djokovic in straight sets last year for his fourth consecutive French Open crown and 20th slam trophy, equalling Roger Federer's all-time record. Nadal maintained his stranglehold on the major, having not dropped a set throughout the fortnight. Only three players have previously won the French Open without losing a single set: Ilie Nastase in 1973, Bjorn Borg in 1978 and 1980 and Nadal in 2008, 2010, 2017 and 2020.

Nadal is the only player to have won the same slam more than 10 times. He has lost just two of the 102 matches played in Paris (excluding walkovers), losing to Robin Soderling in the 2009 fourth round and Djokovic in the 2015 quarter-finals, while has won each of the last 30.

The record for most slam titles on the men's circuit will also be up for grabs, with Nadal and the returning Federer seeking to snap their tie.

In the last 25 years, the number one seed has won the French Open on only five occasions – Nadal (2018, 2014 and 2011), Djokovic (2016) and Kuerten (2001). It does not bode well for top seed and 18-time major champion Djokovic, who is looking to close the gap on foes Nadal and Federer.

Australian Open champion Djokovic, who will face Tennys Sandgren in the first round, has reached the final in seven of the last 10 slams he contested, claiming six titles. However, the Serbian star has only featured in five French Open deciders (W1 L4) – fewer than in any of the other three major tournaments.

 

Declining Federer, Nadal challengers?

The French Open will be a welcome sight for tennis fans as Swiss great Federer, who has not played a slam since the 2020 Australian Open due to his troublesome knee and the coronavirus pandemic, makes his comeback.

Seeded eighth ahead of his opener against Denis Istomin, 2009 French Open champion Federer has only contested nine slam finals over the last 10 years (W4 L5) after reaching that stage in 22 major events in the previous decade (W16 L6). Since the beginning of 2016, the 39-year-old has only taken part in one French Open, in 2019, where he reached the semi-finals.

Daniil Medvedev has been flirting with a breakthrough slam triumph. The second seed is a finalist at the Australian Open (2021) and US Open (2019). Medvedev has reached the semi-finals in two of his most recent three appearances at a grand slam after going further than the fourth round in only one of his previous 13 major tournaments. However, the Russian has lost in the first round in each of his four Roland Garros appearances.

US Open champion and fourth seed Dominic Thiem has played two finals at Roland Garros (2018 and 2019) – more than in any other slam – but lost both of them against Nadal. He has won 80 per cent of his games at the French Open, his best win rate in any of the four majors.

Andrey Rublev is the only player to have taken part in the quarter-finals during each of the past three grand slams, including the 2020 French Open. But the seventh seed – who fired down 53 aces at Roland Garros last year, at least 14 more than any other player – is yet to progress further than that round.

Aslan Karatsev enjoyed a fairy-tale run at Melbourne Park in February, the Russian qualifier making it all the way to the semi-finals. Only one qualifier has reached the semi-final stage at the French Open: Filip Dewulf in 1997.

 

Iga in 14-year first?

Having never progressed beyond the fourth round of a major, Polish teenager Swiatek broke through for her maiden slam title via the French Open last year, upstaging Sofia Kenin.

The 19-year-old Swiatek – who will return as the eighth seed in her defence, starting against Kaja Juvan – could become the first woman to win consecutive titles at Roland Garros since Henin in 2005-2007 (three in a row). Only three players have won multiple titles in the women's tournament at the French Open in the 21st century: Henin (four), Serena Williams (three) and Maria Sharapova (two).

Swiatek could claim the French Open and Rome's Internazionali d'Italia in the same campaign. Only Serena Williams (2002 and 2013), Sharapova (2012), Monica Seles (1990), Steffi Graf (1987) and Chris Evert (1974, 1975 and 1980) have achieved the feat previously.

Swiatek celebrated slam glory in the absence of world number one and defending champion Ash Barty in 2020. No player has won more games on clay this season than Australian top seed Barty and Veronika Kudermetova (both 13).

Only Barty (three) has won more titles than third seed Aryna Sabalenka (two) in 2021 – the Belarusian is one of two players currently ranked in the top 20 in the WTA yet to reach a major quarter-final, alongside Maria Sakkari.

In a field also including four-time slam champion and reigning Australian Open winner Naomi Osaka – the second seed – Sabalenka could become only the third woman to win the Madrid Open and French Open in the same season after Serena Williams in 2013 and Sharapova in 2014.

As for fourth seed Kenin, she could be just the fourth American player to reach back-to-back Roland Garros finals, after Serena Williams (2015-16), Martina Navratilova (1984-1987) and Evert (1973-1975, 1979-80 and 1983-1986).

 

All eyes on Serena

The queen of WTA tennis for so long, Serena Williams is one slam success away from matching Margaret Court's record of 24 major singles championships. But the 39-year-old has been stuck on 23 since reigning supreme at the Australian Open in 2017.

While the French clay is not one of her favourite surfaces, it could be the scene of a remarkable achievement following a lengthy wait.

Roland Garros is where Williams has the lowest winning percentage (84 per cent) and where she won the fewest titles (three, at least half as many as the other slams).

Williams won her maiden French Open in 2002 and could hoist the trophy aloft 19 years after her first success in Paris. The longest span between two majors wins for a single player in the Open era is already held by Williams (15 years between 1999 and 2014 at the US Open).

Irina-Camelia Begu awaits the seventh seed in the first round.

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic could meet at the semi-final stage of the French Open, while Iga Swiatek and Ash Barty are in the same half of the draw.

Nadal will start his quest to win the Paris grand slam a staggering 14th time with a first-round encounter against Australian Alexei Popyrin next week.

Defending champion Nadal, the third seed, is in the same half of the draw as fellow all-time greats Djokovic and Federer, who could face the Serbian world number one in the last eight.

Top seed Djokovic, who is two major titles shy of the record of 20 held by Federer and Nadal, will take on Tennys Sandgren in the first round.

Swiss great Federer will come up against a qualifier in round one at Roland Garros, while two-time runner-up Dominic Thiem is up against Pablo Andujar.

Pole Swiatek claimed her maiden grand slam title at the French Open last year and takes on her close friend Kaja Juvan in the first round.

World number one Barty, who did not travel to Paris to defend her title in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, has will make her return at the clay-court major against Bernarda Pera.

Serena Williams comes up against Irina-Camelia Begu, while last year's runner-up Sofia Kenin must do battle with the 2017 champion Jelena Ostapenko in a standout first-round match.

Carla Suarez Navarro can expect plenty of support when she takes on Sloane Stephens in her first tournament since successfully completing cancer treatment.

Ash Barty dramatically abandoned her Internazionali d'Italia quarter-final against Coco Gauff on Friday due to a right arm injury.

The world number one was leading 6-4 2-1 in Rome when, with her left thigh also heavily strapped, she pulled out of the match following talks with a trainer.

Barty's decision was precautionary as she will begin her French Open campaign in a little over two weeks' time, bidding to regain the title she won two years ago.

The scare came just hours after world number three Simona Halep announced she tore a calf muscle this week, putting the Romanian's Roland Garros prospects in some doubt.

Providing an update after the match with Gauff, which was interrupted by a rain delay, Australian Barty said: "The pain was becoming too severe so it was important to listen to my body and do the right thing knowing we have a slam."

Gauff, who had hit 12 winners to 15 unforced errors prior to her opponent's withdrawal, will now compete in her first career WTA 1000 semi-final.

Karolina Pliskova remained on course for a second Rome triumph in three years, after saving three match points to edge out Jelena Ostapenko.

The 2019 champion, who also finished runner-up last year, was 5-4 down in the final set when digging deep to hold off her 49th-ranked opponent.

The thrilling match went to a tie-break and Pliskova reeled off seven straight points after losing the opener to advance 4-6 7-5 7-6 (7-1).

"I'm just proud of how I fought," Pliskova said at her post-match news conference. "I'm happy that I stayed in there and fought until the end.

"We played last month, so I knew what was going to be happening. You can never get ready for some of the balls which she's playing."

Petra Martic stands between Pliskova and a place in the final for the third year running after the Croatian defeated Jessica Pegula 7-5 6-4.

Pegula eliminated Naomi Osaka earlier in the week but was second best against Martic, who progressed in one hour and 40 minutes.

Martic trailed 2-0 in the opening set before twice breaking Pegula to move 3-2 in front, but her opponent hit back to make it 5-5 in a tight contest.

However, Martic managed to break in the 11th game and served out the set, before showing her steeliness in the second to remain on course for a maiden WTA 1000 crown.  

Ash Barty will meet Coco Gauff in the quarter-finals of the Internazionali BNL d'Italia after an impressive defeat of Veronika Kudermetova.

The world number one claimed her 27th Tour-level win of this year, seeing off Kudermetova 6-3 6-3 in 81 minutes to reach the last eight in Rome for the first time.

Barty admitted it took some time to get used to the "wow factor" of centre court in the Italian capital, but she rarely looked under threat as she moved to 13-2 on clay in 2021.

The Australian would have faced Aryna Sabalenka for the third tournament in a row had it not been for a sterling performance from Gauff, who won 7-5 6-3 to secure a fourth quarter-final this year.

"Coco has shown that she loves to bring her best tennis against the players that challenge her the most," said Barty, who has never played against the American teenager. "She's played an exceptional tournament thus far. She's got the ability to take the game on. She's aggressive, she can run, she can trust her legs.

"I think it's going to be important for me to try to get the match back on my terms as often as possible. I know when they're in her patterns, the way she likes to play, she's extremely dangerous and very good at what she does. I think it's going to be a new challenge, a clean slate for both of us."

Matters were more difficult for reigning French Open champion Iga Swiatek, who saved two match points before beating Barbora Krejcikova 3-6 7-6 (7-5) 7-5 in a contest lasting nearly three hours.

Powerful serving from Krejcikova and some errant shots from Swiatek gifted the Czech the chance to serve out a straight-sets win, but Swiatek held firm before taking the tie-break.

Swiatek persisted with a drop shot that seemed to cause difficulties for her and her opponent before Krejcikova's aim went awry at the end of the decider.

"I had fun when I played drop shots because today I felt them really good," said Swiatek, who will now face fifth seed Elina Svitolina after her 6-4 6-2 beating of Garbine Muguruza.

"I asked myself a question, what would annoy me in that situation? So, I tried to do that. So, yeah, sometimes it didn't look pretty, but I'm happy that I could do that. One year ago I wouldn't even come up with a solution like that. That's a progress."

Jessica Pegula followed up her shock win over Naomi Osaka by defeating Ekaterina Alexandrova in straight sets. She will now face Petra Martic, who came from a set down to defeat world number 44 Nadia Podoroska – conqueror of Serena Williams on Wednesday.

Ninth seed Karolina Pliskova, who beat Vera Zvonareva 7-5 6-3, will face Jelena Ostapenko following her three-set defeat of Angelique Kerber.

Aryna Sabalenka won the Madrid Open after a 6-0 3-6 6-4 victory over world number one Ashleigh Barty on Saturday.

Sabalenka wrapped up the first set to love in just 25 minutes as an unusually sluggish Barty struggled to find any kind of rhythm to her game.

Barty, who had won 16 consecutive matches on red clay, rallied in the second set to get herself back on level terms.

At 4-4 in the deciding set Sabalenka broke Barty and then held her nerve on serve to secure her 10th WTA Tour career title which will see her climb up to fourth from seventh in the world rankings on Monday.

Barty was on a streak of nine consecutive WTA Tour titles and had not lost to an opponent in the top 10 since the WTA Finals in 2019.

But in-form Sabalenka had not dropped a single set in Madrid in the lead-up to the final and began in imperious fashion.

The 23-year-old from Belarus produced a clinical first set, dropping just four points, as Barty failed to win a single game in the set to record a bagel for the first time in four years.

The pair exchanged breaks in the second set before Australian Barty, 25, finally discovered some momentum to break her opponent again to seal the set.

Sabalenka squandered a one-set lead to lose to Barty in the Stuttgart Open final two weeks ago.

And Barty, also playing in the final of the tournament for the first time, had threatened to break her opponent at 4-3 in the decider.

But this time Sabalenka took her chance when Barty fluffed a drop shot and then double faulted to give her three break points, converting at the first time of asking with a powerful backhand.

Sabalenka then clinically sealed victory with a flawless service game to love, clinching victory when Barty smashed a forehand into the net.

"To be honest, after the final in Stuttgart I was injured, I couldn't move and wanted to withdraw," Sabalenka said in an on-court interview after the win.

"But the recovery was good, in four days I feel better and now I'm the champion. It's been an amazing week."

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