French Open feeling really French for a change

Sat May 30, 2015 2:47pm EDT
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By Julien Pretot

PARIS (Reuters) - For the first time since 1971, six French players will play the last 16 at their home slam after Richard Gasquet displayed admirable sang froid to down South African Kevin Anderson at Roland Garros on Saturday.

The blue wave, however, could crash onto the fourth-round wall at the French Open as four of the five men will play against the tournament's leading quartet for a place in the quarter-finals.

Gasquet joined Jeremy Chardy, Gilles Simon, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gael Monfils as well as Alize Cornet, the only French woman left in the draw, in the fourth round with a 4-6 7-6(4) 7-5 6-4 defeat of 15th seed Anderson on Court Philippe Chatrier.

"I fought hard in the second and third set, it's difficult because he is a big server," said the 20th-seeded Gasquet, who could not break his opponent in the first two sets.

"But seeing Gael (Monfils) play such a great match, it motivates you."

Monfils, the 13th seed, led the French charge on Friday, prevailing in yet another five-set thriller against Uruguay's Pablo Cuevas while Simon, Tsonga and Cornet also progressed.

On Saturday they were joined by Gasquet and Chardy, who continued his brilliant run with a three-set win over 17th seed David Goffin after eliminating American John Isner.

In 1971, five French men and two women reached the last 16 here, and since then, no more than five home players have reached that stage in any single year.   Continued...

Richard Gasquet of France celebrates after beating Kevin Anderson of South Africa during their men's singles match at the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris, France, May 30, 2015.             REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol