Nadal pull-out stuns French Open but show goes on
By Martyn Herman
PARIS (Reuters) - Rafael Nadal went down fighting on his favourite battleground a year ago but this time his quest for an unprecedented 10th French Open title ended sitting glumly in front of a microphone.
With third-round action in full swing out on the Roland Garros claycourts, Nadal dropped a bombshell midway though a sunny afternoon when he announced he was withdrawing because of an injury to his left wrist.
For one of the game's fiercest fighters, it was a lame way to go -- especially after he had dropped only nine games in reaching the third round where he had been due to play compatriot Marcel Granollers on Saturday.
The Spaniard's hastily convened news conference which caught everyone on the hop cast a pall over the tournament, especially after 17-times grand slam champion and 2009 French winner Roger Federer withdrew last week due to a back injury.
There was still some notable action on Friday, however, as seeded players began colliding.
Men's defending champion Stan Wawrinka eased into the last 16 by beating Frenchman Jeremy Chardy 6-4 6-3 7-5, second seed Andy Murray defused Ivo Karlovic's rocket serve and home favourite Richard Gasquet had fans on Philippe Chatrier Court drooling as he took out Australian maverick Nick Kyrgios.
Agnieszka Radwanska, the women's second seed, and Spain's fourth seed Garbine Muguruza also advanced in the sunshine as did Australian Sam Stosur who beat 2015 runner-up Lucie Safarova to set up a match with another former finalist Simona Halep.
Ordinarily, 10th seed and twice Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova's shock 6-0 6-7(3) 6-0 defeat by 108th-ranked American Shelby Rogers would have reverberated. Continued...