There were mixed fortunes for last year’s finalists at the French Open today as Francesca Schiavone moved into the fourth round but Samantha Stosur was knocked out by Gisela Dulko.
Defending champion Schiavone was given a tough time by Peng Shuai in the first set but the Chinese 29th seed was clearly feeling unwell and, after having her blood pressure taken at the start of the second set, she retired in tears trailing 6-3 1-2.
Eighth seed Stosur was outplayed at the start by Argentinian Dulko then appeared to turn things around before losing five of the last six games from a break up in the decider to crash out 6-4 1-6 6-3.
The Australian, who has been battling a cold for the last five days, admitted struggling with the wind and praised Dulko for the way she controlled the points.
She said: “The conditions were pretty tough and it wasn’t good for either of us. She seemed to be out ahead a little bit better and was really the one dictating the points. I’m usually the one able to do that.
“I think after I won that second set I felt I had more of the momentum and got a break up, but things really turned around again. It’s definitely unfortunate but I think she played very well.”
With the women’s draw so open, it seemed a great opportunity for Stosur to go one better than last year, but she is confident there will be many more chances at grand slams.
She added: “It’s obviously very disappointing but it’s hopefully not the end of the world and it’s not going to change the way I play or the way I go into my next match. I’m not going to walk away from here thinking I’ve lost all my chances and my time is over.”
Dulko’s coach and brother Alejandro did not travel to Paris because he was about to become a father and the 26-year-old held up a towel after the match dedicating her win to new-born twins Myla and Teo.
She said: “The fact I couldn’t be with my nephews yesterday in Buenos Aires, this was something very important to me. But, as I wrote on the towel, it was worth it. I think it’s one of the most important matches for me, emotionally speaking.”
The Argentinian will face French 11th seed Marion Bartoli in the next round after she recovered from going 0-4 down to end the hopes of dark horse Julia Goerges, winning 3-6 6-2 6-4.
Dulko added: “Sam is a very tough player, a very powerful player, so if I wasn’t that aggressive, it was going to be really difficult for me to manage the points.
“I think it was really key for me to start well and then win the first set. I feel comfortable and at ease. I won an incredible match against one of the finalists from last year. The fourth round is going to be very difficult, of course.”
Svetlana Kuznetsova, the 2009 champion, has flown under the radar so far but, as one of the few top women players to really thrive on clay, the Russian certainly cannot be discounted.
And she had no trouble reaching the fourth round today as she dispatched Canada’s Rebecca Marino 6-0 6-4, racing through the opening set in 17 minutes.
Schiavone’s next opponent, meanwhile, will be another dark horse in 10th seed Jelena Jankovic. The Serb has reached the semi-finals at Roland Garros in three of the last four years and was impressive in beating Bethanie Mattek-Sands 6-2 6-2 today.
She said: “It’s going to be a tough match. But I just want to continue to play my game. I’ve been playing pretty well and I feel that every match I’m playing much better and hitting the ball better and moving better.”