Four US women in final 16 at French
While the United States didn’t get the result it was looking for in Saturday’s most thrilling match at the French Open, the Americans did continue a superb run at Roland Garros.
No. 19 seed John Isner saved an incredible 12 match points before falling to No. 12 seed Tommy Haas in yet another amazing Isner five-setter, 7-5, 7-6 (4), 4-6, 6-7 (10), 10-8 in the third round.
But US women won all three of their third-round singles matches, giving the Americans four players in the final 16 on the Paris clay. That’s the most in the women’s draw — Russia and Italy have three apiece — and the most for the US at the French Open since it had four in 2004 and five in 2003.
Isner is best known for winning the longest match in history, that 70-68 fifth set over Nicolas Mahut at Wimbledon in 2010. Saturday’s loss, in which he wasted a 3-0 lead in the fifth set, marked his fifth consecutive five-set exit at a Grand Slam tournament. He clearly wasn’t happy with the outcome.
"In hindsight, probably would have been better to lose in straight sets," Isner said, "because I feel terrible right now."
No. 17 seed Sloane Stephens reached the fourth round for the second consecutive year by beating Marina Erakovic 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-3. She was joined by two unseeded Americans reaching the round of 16 at Roland Garros for the first time. Julie Hampton upset No. 7 seed Petra Kvitova 6-1, 7-6 (7), and Bethanie Mattek-Sands followed up her upset of 2011 French champ Li Na with a victory over qualifier Paula Ormaechea 4-6, 6-1, 6-3.
Those three, and top-seeded Serena Williams, have given US tennis something to crow about.
A year ago, Stephens became the first US teenager to reach the fourth round at Roland Garros since Serena in 2001. She followed that up by reaching her first Grand Slam semifinal at the Australian Open this January, beating Serena to get there.
"This is my favorite tournament," said Stephens, now 20, "so I would really, really, really love to win this tournament."
Mattek-Sands, 28, reached the fourth round at a Grand Slam tournament for just the second time in 27 appearances, matching her showing at Wimbledon in 2008.
"I have always believed I can do it." Mattek-Sands said on the French Open official website. "It's what you train for; it's what you visualize in your practices. It's why you work so hard — for the chance to play the best players in the biggest stadiums."
Mattek-Sands, known for her eccentric fashion sense on and off the court, has been getting some extra support in Paris from another colorful character — comedian Judah Friedlander.
You're a winner @bmattekI'm just glad you let me be your inspirational coach today. GREAT MATCH!— Judah Friedlander (@JudahWorldChamp) May 30, 2013
Hampton stunned 2011 Wimbledon champion Kvitova to reach a Grand Slam fourth round for the first time. Kvitova was also a French Open semifinalist in 2012.
“I caught her a little off guard," Hampton said on the French Open official website. "I came up with some good shots when I needed to, and I don't think she was on top of her game. You work hard, but you don't know when the good results are going to come. Clay is not my best surface, so this is really encouraging."
Can the fearsome foursome keep the run going? Serena did her part Sunday morning, earning a quarterfinal berth and extending her career-best winning streak to 28 matches by beating Roberta Vinci 6-1, 6-3.
Here’s a look at the other three round of 16 matches:
Bethanie Mattek-Sands vs. Maria Kirilenko (12), Monday: A matchup of two fiery players, and one that Mattek-Sands certainly can win. The two have met just once, earlier this year at Miami when Mattek-Sands was struggling to win any matches. She’s not struggling now.
Jamie Hampton vs. Jelena Jankovic (18), Monday: Jankovic is one of the most dangerous players left in the draw. But given Hampton’s recent form and the fact she beat Jankovic in their only meeting in 2012, she won’t be awed by the Serb. On Saturday, Hampton was able to capitalize on Kvitova’s 33 unforced errors. The steadier Jankovic isn’t likely to give her that luxury.
Sloane Stephens (17) vs. Maria Sharapova (2), Monday: A huge test for Stephens, who will have to oust the defending champion to reach the quarterfinals. Maria hasn’t lost a set yet in Paris, and she’s 2-0 against the American — including a 6-2, 6-1 rout on clay last month in Rome. Can Stephens do anything to make a dent in Sharapova’s game?
— The Associated Press contributed to this report.