You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Defending champ Muguruza, Venus power to French fourth round

The Sports Xchange logoThe Sports Xchange 02-06-2017 The Sports Xchange

Garbine Muguruza in action against Yulia Putintseva in the third round of the French Open at Roland Garros on Friday. Muguruza won 7-5, 6-2 . © Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports Garbine Muguruza in action against Yulia Putintseva in the third round of the French Open at Roland Garros on Friday. Muguruza won 7-5, 6-2 . Defending champion Garbine Muguruza and American Venus Williams each advanced to the fourth round of the French Open on Friday at Roland Garros.

The fourth-seeded Muguruza beat Yulia Putintseva 7-5, 6-2, while the 10th-seeded Williams sailed past Elise Mertens 6-3, 6-1 on the clay in Paris.

After a back-and-forth first set, Muguruza broke the 27th-seeded Russian's serve three times in the second on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

"I'm happy I went out there without any kind of fear," the Spaniard said afterward. "I wanted the match. I tried to just do what I had to do and keep that during the whole match.

"I was not thinking a lot because it's, you know, a lot of thinking in this tournament for me in the matches and stuff, so I try to go out there and block everything and just think about what I have to do to win. The more matches I play -- and tough victories -- I think it gives you self-confidence, a successful feeling out there."

Muguruza will next face 13th-seeded Kristina Mladenovic of France, who rallied to beat American Shelby Rogers 7-5, 4-6, 8-6.

Meanwhile, Williams had an easy time with Mertens, a 21-year-old Belgian playing in just her second Grand Slam tournament.

Williams, who turns 37 later this month, said she isn't satisfied with reaching the fourth round. She has never won the French Open and this is her 20th appearance in the event.

"I have played well here a number of times," Williams said afterward. "Sometimes it didn't work out. Sometimes clay can be tricky. Sometimes a player catches fire and you don't have a good day.

"I think this year I'm playing really well strategically, and I'm enjoying it. For me, experience is only a plus. I feel like push comes to shove ... I'm going to have the experience of what it's like to be in that situation. For a young player, maybe this is their first third round but I have played a number of them. It's going to feel less climactic to me."

© Rex Images/Mike Frey Williams hit 22 winners in the victory over Mertens and it was suggested to her that she didn't receive much of a challenge.

"I'm not looking for any tests," Williams joked. "I'm looking to run away with it."

Williams will next face 30th-seeded Timea Bacsinszky, who defeated Williams in the fourth round of last year's French Open and was a semifinalist in 2015.

"She's had great results in this tournament two years in a row, and last year she played flawless. She deserved the win," Williams said of Bacsinszky. "This year, of course, I have an opportunity to play better and that's what I'm going to try to do."

Bacsinszky also was sharp in her third-round match as she posted a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Tunisia's Ons Jabeur. The Swiss needed just 68 minutes to seal the match.

Eighth-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia also moved on with a 7-6 (5), 4-6, 7-5 victory over 32nd-seeded Zhang Shuai.

Kuznetsova overcame 63 unforced errors to outlast the Chinese player in a match that took three hours and nine minutes.

Kuznetsova will face either 11th-seeded Caroline Wozniacki or American CiCi Bellis in the fourth round. Their late match was suspended due to rain after Wozniacki won the first set 6-2 before Bellis dominated the second set and held a 5-2 edge when it was called.

Wozniacki openly clashed with the chair umpire while trailing 3-2 in the second set and demanded the match be suspended due to darkness.

"It is literally so dark I can't see," Wozniacki barked, which led to the chair umpire delivering this salvo: "Caroline, it's not that dark. Come on."

The point became moot two games later when rain started pouring on to the clay court.

No. 23 seed Samantha Stosur of Australia notched her eighth consecutive win with a 6-2, 6-2 victory over American qualifier Bethanie Mattek-Sands, moving into the second week of the French Open for the sixth time in her career.

Stosur will next meet 19-year-old Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia, who beat Lesya Tsurenko of Ukraine 6-1, 6-4.

Mladenovic reached the second week of her home Grand Slam for the first time. She was down 5-3 in the final set before breaking Rogers twice, and secured the victory on her first match point with a forehand winner on Court Suzanne-Lenglen.

"I went through so much emotion in this match, I don't know what to say," Mladenovic said on-court to the fans after the match in two hours and 46 minutes. "I don't have words to describe the love I have for you and what you bring me."

Rogers, who was a surprise quarterfinalist in Paris a year ago, saw Mladenovic win 25 of the last 33 points to pull off the comeback.

"She didn't really miss a ball. I think she elevated her game," Rogers said of Mladenovic's turnaround. "Big round of applause for her. She played very well. The French fans are awesome. They love their French players, and it's a really cool atmosphere, I guess, try to pretend they are cheering for me. They have the wave going and everything. It's nice to see the fans of tennis like that.

"I think it was a lot of positives to take from this tournament. Even today, you know, let the first set get away, then refocused, played really well. I'm proud of myself for doing that. Coming back in the second and fighting until the end."

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon