Even when slightly out of sorts, Maria Sharapova is still the most formidable opponent in women's tennis and Samantha Stosur, whose form swings like a reed in a storm, barely inconvenienced the Russian on her way to the fourth round of the French Open.
Beating the former US Open champion 6-3, 6-4 in an hour and 40 minutes was the perfect workout for Sharapova’s match on Sunday against the number 13 seed, Lucie Safarova, who had a tougher time, defeating Sabine Lisicki 6-3, 7-6.
The best match of day six was the first one on Court Philippe Chatrier, where Mirjana Lucic-Baroni could not extend her fairytale run, losing in three close sets to France’s number 29 seed, Alizé Cornet. However, the 33-year-old Croat, such a lauded winner over the 2014 finalist Simona Halep on Wednesday, left some wise words behind her.
“In these big countries – France, England, USA, Australia – when they have younger players, they make them into a superstar before they even win a match or two. For us, we really have to earn it, and I think that’s the difference.
"It's fun for French players. It's a bit easier than it is for, let's say, Croatians. They get more opportunities and wildcards but the rest of us, when we get there, I think we hold on to it a little tighter. I would say just keep believing. Don't take the losses too hard. Ups and downs are going to happen, no matter what – unless you're Roger Federer or Serena Williams or Rafael Nadal here at the French."
Federer’s progress remains as smooth as a well-poured coffee. With uncanny mathematical symmetry, he improved as the shots flowed, beating the promising young Bosnian Damir Dzumhur 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 in an hour and 28 minutes.
Later he had some wise words, too, on Novak Djokovic’s place in the game’s pantheon. “Very high already. He’s still got some way to go. Maybe he doesn’t have as many grand slams yet as others [Federer: 17, Nadal: 14] but he’s got a ton of Masters 1000s, which not many people talk about – which I find extraordinary.”
What was mildly extraordinary was the fact Federer’s compatriot Stan Wawrinka beat the American Steve Johnson by the same score in only a minute longer. Talk about synchronising your Swiss watches.
Wawrinka won 19 points in 22 visits to the net but said he would not be fooled into coming forward rashly against Gilles Simon in his next match, having fallen for that ruse against him here three years ago. “You shouldn’t go when he wants you to go,” Wawrinka said. “You have to go when you want to do it yourself.”
On a sad note, a pigeon was killed when it flew into the Hawk-Eye camera during Richard Gasquet's five-set win over the Argentinian Carlos Berlocq. "There were feathers all over the place," the Frenchman observed. "It's a tough death."
ROLAND GARROS – DAY SIX
Second round: (20) Richard Gasquet (Fra) bt Carlos Berlocq (Arg) 3-6 6-3 6-1 4-6 6-1.
Third round: (5) Kei Nishikori (Jpn) bt Benjamin Becker (Ger) w/o, Teymuraz Gabashvili (Rus) bt Lukas Rosol (Cze) 6-4 6-4 6-4, (2) Roger Federer (Swi) bt Damir Dzumhur (Bih) 6-4 6-3 6-2, (8) Stanislas Wawrinka (Swi) bt Steve Johnson (USA) 6-4 6-3 6-2, (12) Gilles Simon (Fra) bt Nicolas Mahut (Fra) 6-2 6-7 (6-8) 6-7 (6-8) 6-3 6-1, (4) Tomas Berdych (Cze) bt Benoit Paire (Fra) 6-1 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 6-4.
Singles Third round: (7) Ana Ivanovic (Ser) bt Donna Vekic (Cro) 6-0 6-3, (19) Elina Svitolina (Ukr) bt Annika Beck (Ger) 6-3 2-6 6-4, (29) Alize Cornet (Fra) bt Mirjana Lucic-Baroni (Cro) 4-6 6-3 7-5, (9) Ekaterina Makarova (Rus) bt Elena Vesnina (Rus) 6-2 6-4, (13) Lucie Safarova (Cze) bt (20) Sabine Lisicki (Ger) 6-3 7-6 (7-2), (21) Garbine Muguruza (Spa) bt (11) Angelique Kerber (Ger) 4-6 6-2 6-2, (2) Maria Sharapova (Rus) bt (26) Samantha Stosur (Aus) 6-3 6-4.