Greece’s Maria Sakkari moved into the Roland Garros third round for the first time in her career with an impressive 7-5, 6-3 victory over Spanish No. 23 seed Carla Suarez Navarro on Wednesday.
The 22-year-old world No. 38 next takes on Russian No. 14 seed Daria Kasatkina, who survived a bizarre last-minute court change and beat the darkness by completing a 6-3, 6-3 win against Kirsten Flipkens just before sunset.
Sakkari has now made the third round in four of her last six Grand Slams and is looking to make the second week at a major for the first time.
“I know I have a very tough match in the next round, playing Daria. It’s going to be a battle because she’s playing well this year. It’s actually my third year now on the tour and I’m feeling much better and now more confidence on the clay as well. I’m ready to make the next step, I will give my best and if the result doesn’t come this week, I’m sure it will come next time,” Sakkari told Sport360 following her second round triumph.
Find out more about Sakkari in the video above as she answers some rapid fire questions I threw her way.
Tennis players have many reasons to share a connection with one another.
They could strike up friendships from being around each other for a long time, they could play doubles together, they could be engaged in a fierce rivalry, they can have the same sponsor, get stranded at an airport together because of a canceled flight, and nowadays, they can be connected because of their kids.
Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka spoke about the special bond they have formed after becoming mothers and on Wednesday, Novak Djokovic, father of two, revealed his connection with Serena, whose daughter Olympia is one day older than his daughter Tara.
“I love Serena. You know all the superlatives and beautiful words that you can think of, she deserves it. Especially now, I mean, after she gave birth to Olympia. And after all she has achieved in sport to see her back and, you know, putting hours on the court and work and again and again, it’s impressive. It’s inspiring. It really is,” Djokovic said after his second round win over Jauma Munar.
“I do have a really nice relationship with her, and there is actually, I don’t know if you know, but there is one day difference between my daughter and her daughter.
“So we have texted a lot in the process. She was very nice to share a lot of things that she was going through with me and my wife [Jelena], and I really appreciated that. I felt really close to her. All I can say is I love her, and I wish her all the best.”
— Olympia Ohanian (@OlympiaOhanian) May 26, 2018
AU REVOIR, NICO!
The day before, two other players shared a special moment as Nicolas Mahut played, what is likely to be the final singles match of his career, against Juan Martin del Potro in the Roland Garros first round.
Del Potro won the clash in four sets and they exchanged a warm hug at the net when the match was over.
The Argentine wouldn’t reveal exactly what they told each other because he wanted Mahut to tell the press himself that he was likely to retire from singles play.
“Towards the end, I wanted to savor the game a bit. It might be my last game here, my last match here. But it will depend on a number of things. I’m not saying that I’m going to stop my career, but maybe I will give preference to doubles,” said the 36-year-old Frenchman.
“Del Potro is a player that I like very much, and I’d be happy if my last match that I played was against him. I was lucky, because I was able to play the tournament. But afterwards, we don’t know what’s going to happen. The season is a long one. I can come back, but I could fall. If I do drop very much, then I’ll give preference to doubles. What I can say was that I really enjoyed the match towards the end.”
The catsuit Serena Williams wore during her Roland Garros opening round has been the talk of the French Open.
And while many of her peers, including the likes of Elina Svitolina, have made positive comments about the eye-catching outfit, Kristyna Pliskova, who lost to Serena on Tuesday, has questioned whether it was within the rules.
Serena, who had life-threatening health complications following the delivery of her baby, Olympia, last September, including blood clots in her lungs, said the catsuit had a special message behind it, while adding that it also had a functional compression purpose to help with blood circulation.
“Catsuit anyone? For all the moms out there who had a tough recovery from pregnancy—here you go. If I can do it, so can you. Love you all!!” tweeted Serena on Tuesday.
She added in her press conference: “I feel like a warrior in it, like a warrior princess kind of, queen from Wakanda maybe. I’m always living in a fantasy world. I always wanted to be a super hero, and it’s kind of my way of being a super hero. I feel like a super hero when I wear it.”
Pliskova was asked by Czech press about Serena’s outfit and said she wondered whether it was legal in tennis.
“I did not really know that she could play in this,” Pliskova was quoted as saying by isport.blesk.cz.
“What I remember, even when it was cold, they did not let anyone play in long trousers.
“But I guess she has her own rules. That’s the only thing. Otherwise I don’t care if she plays naked.”
Nothing against Serena's outfit, looks pretty cool actually. But just wondering how is that allowed by the rules if we only allowed to wear legging until the middle of the calf the longest, and ALWAYS have to wear skirt/shorts on top of the leggings.Were there any rules changes?
— Arina Rodionova (@arinarodionova) May 30, 2018
Fellow Czech Marketa Vondrousova had similar thoughts.
There is nothing in the 2018 Official Grand Slam Rulebook that clearly forbids players from wearing long pants during matches. And nothing is said regarding compression wear.
The following are excerpts from the rulebook:
“Sweatshirts, gym shorts, dress shirts, T-shirts or any other inappropriate attire shall not be worn during a match.”
“Players may wear warm-up clothing during the warm-up and during a match provided it complies with the foregoing provisions and provided further that the players obtain approval of the Referee prior to wearing warm-up clothing during a match.”
The Grand Slam Board has been contacted for comment but is yet to respond.
Meanwhile, No. 4 seed Elina Svitolina, who reached the third round with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Viktoria Kuzmova on Wednesday, had good things to say about the catsuit, and welcomed Serena’s return to Grand Slam play after a 14-month absence.
“It’s nice, and I think it’s a strong message from her,” she said of the outfit.
“I read a little bit about the story behind it. So it’s really something special, and I think it’s nice to see her back, nice to see her winning again.
“And hopefully I can play with her because, for me, it’s something that I want to do. I want to play against Maria [Sharapova]. I want to play against Serena, against Victoria [Azarenka], such great champions.
“We are training for those kind of moments, for those kind of matches, to play on the big stage in front of lots of people. So I want to challenge myself against those players.”
Pretty cool hearing how excited players are to have Serena back, even on the men’s side.
“I heard she was wearing something pretty cool, too,” said Sam Querrey.#RG18
— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) May 29, 2018