Williams sisters and Tsonga injury dash French hopes
By Martyn Herman
PARIS (Reuters) - First the Williams sisters ambushed two home favorites, then Jo Wilfried Tsonga's chances were shattered by injury as French hopes were battered at a stormy Roland Garros on Saturday.
Top seed Serena Williams contended with thunder, rain delays and an inspired Kristina Mladenovic roared on by a partisan crowd but it was all in day's work for the holder as she moved ominously into the second week.
The 34-year-old American needed all her experience and tenacity to survive a compelling second-set tiebreak and claim a 6-4 7-6(10) victory to set up a last-16 clash with Ukraine's Elina Svitolina who beat 2008 champion Ana Ivanovic 6-4 6-4.
Shortly afterwards Venus beat unseeded Alize Cornet 7-6(5) 1-6 6-0 to make the fourth round for the first time since 2010 -- keeping alive the possibility of the sisters' first French Open clash since they contested the 2002 final.
Twice semi-finalist Tsonga was expected to fly the home flag but retired with a groin injury when up 5-2 against Latvia's Ernests Gulbis, leaving Court Philippe Chatrier in tears.
It means of the 26 French players in the singles draws only Richard Gasquet is still standing -- the worst showing by the home nation since 2010 when Tsonga was the last man standing.
"It's of course a big disappointment. I was in a really good shape today," sixth seed Tsonga told reporters referring to his positive start to the match.
"It's just really difficult to accept that I'm not in the tournament any more." Continued...