Tennis

Muguruza survives scare

Defending champion fights back to avoid early exit, knife-attack victim Kvitova's comeback halted

Defending champion Garbine Muguruza survived a tough French Open second-round challenge from Anett Kontaveit, while men's title-holder Novak Djokovic stormed into the last 32 yesterday.

Muguruza's patchy form this season included a loss to the world No. 53 in Stuttgart, with the Spaniard again in dire trouble in Paris after falling a set and a break behind against the Estonian.

But the fourth seed recovered to claw out a 6-7 (4/7), 6-4, 6-2 win and book a third-round clash with Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan.

"I have a different spirit here, I'm going to fight for every ball to try and win," said Muguruza, who defeated Serena Williams in last year's final.

"She was playing so good in the first two sets, I was just hanging there waiting for my moment and, in the third set, it came."

Djokovic needed little over two hours to see off Portugal's Joao Sousa 6-1, 6-4, 6-3 as he bids to become the first man in the Open era to win each Grand Slam twice.

The world No. 2 broke his 59th-ranked opponent six times to make it four wins in as many meetings with Sousa.

Djokovic goes on to face Argentina's Diego Schwartzman for a place in the last 16.

"In the first and second rounds, I'm the favourite, but it's sport and nothing is predictable," said Djokovic.

"I think the first two sets went very well, the third was was more difficult."

Rafael Nadal's quest for an incredible 10th Roland Garros title stayed on track after a 6-1, 6-4, 6-3 victory over Dutchman Robin Haase. Sixth seed Dominic Thiem charged into the third round with a routine win over Simone Bolelli, sweeping the Italian aside 7-5, 6-1, 6-3.

The Austrian, who is the only player to defeat Nadal on clay this season, will meet American 25th seed Steve Johnson next as he looks to build on last year's run to the semi-finals.

Hopes of a first French men's champion since Yannick Noah in 1983 suffered a huge blow as 12th seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga crashed out in his opening match.

BROKEN

The Frenchman won his first clay-court title in Lyon last week, but fell to a four-set defeat by Roland Garros debutant Renzo Olivo in a tie held over from Tuesday.

Serving to stay in the match when play resumed, Tsonga was broken immediately by the Argentine world No. 91 as Olivo wrapped up a 7-5, 6-4, 6-7 (6/8), 6-4 win.

American qualifier Bethanie Mattek-Sands halted Petra Kvitova's comeback, defeating the popular Czech 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (7/5) in her first tournament since a horrifying knife attack last December.

"I'm disappointed, for sure. I came here to win the matches," said two-time Wimbledon champion Kvitova.

"But I really fight. I mean, after the match, I didn't feel that bad as normally I probably do.

"I'm still happy I'm here and playing. The fairy tale ended.

"Now, in upcoming weeks, I think it will be business as usual."

Venus Williams shook off a slow start to ease into the third round with a 6-3, 6-1 victory over Japan's Kurumi Nara.

Williams, the 2002 runner-up who turns 37 next month, will play Belgium's Elise Mertens or Dutch qualifier Richel Hogenkamp in the third round.

"Do I sense (the draw) is open? I just am really focused on me and nothing's a given, or else I'd win every match," said Venus, who has sister Serena in Paris supporting her.

Meanwhile, Australian Samantha Stosur branded compatriot Margaret Court as "crazy" yesterday after the Grand Slam legend claimed "tennis is full of lesbians" and transgender children were the work of "the devil".

Stosur said all players were united in their condemnation of the 74-year-old as pressure mounted for the Margaret Court Arena at the Australian Open in Melbourne to be renamed.

"I think that's all pretty crazy stuff," said Stosur, the 33-year-old Australian who won the 2011 US Open.

"It's pretty obvious that the whole tennis community out here has pretty much the same opinion and we're going to all stand by that."

Stosur, however, insisted she was not leading calls for a boycott of the flagship arena at Melbourne which carries the name of the 24-time Grand Slam title winner. - AFP

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