Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Serena withdraws because of Achilles injury

   One player's quest to tie a record for career Grand Slam singles titles ended for the year while another's continued.
   Sixth-seeded Serena Williams withdrew from the French Open today with an Achilles tendon injury suffered in her semifinal loss to Victoria Azarenka in the recent U.S. Open.
   Williams, who turned 39 on Saturday, had been scheduled to play Tsvetana Pironkova, a 33-year-old Bulgarian, in a second-round matchup of mothers.
   Williams has been stuck on 23 Grand Slam singles crowns, one short of Margaret Court's record, for the past three seasons. The three-time French Open and Stanford champion did not reach a major final this year.
   This is the second time in the last three seasons that Williams has withdrawn from Roland Garros because of injury. In her first Grand Slam tournament since giving birth, she pulled out before her scheduled match against Maria Sharapova with a chest muscle problem in the fourth round in 2018.
   Williams said doctors advised her to rest for four to six weeks, adding that she "more than likely" will not play the rest of the year. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, almost every scheduled tournament has been canceled until 2021.  
   Also today, second-seeded Rafael Nadal dismissed Mackenzie McDonald, a 25-year-old product of Piedmont in the San Francisco Bay Area, 6-1, 6-0, 6-3 in 1 hour, 40 minutes.
   Nadal, seeking his fourth consecutive French Open crown and 13th overall, never faced a break point. He can tie Roger Federer's mark of 20 Grand Slam singles titles.
   Anna Karolina Schmiedlova of Slovakia ousted Azarenka, the 10th seed and U.S. Open runner-up, 6-2, 6-2 for her second consecutive victory over a Grand Slam champion. Schmiedlova, 26, eliminated 40-year-old Venus Williams 6-4, 6-4 in the opening round.
   Schmiedlova, who has plunged from a career-high No. 26 in 2015 to No. 161, came to Paris with a 12-match losing streak in Grand Slam main draws dating back five years. 
   Qualifier Martina Trevisan, a 5-foot-3 (1.60-meter) left-hander from Italy, surprised 16-year-old Coco Gauff of Delray Beach, Fla., 4-6, 6-2, 7-5 to reach the third round of a major for the first time.
   Gauff, the French Open girls singles champion at 14 in 2018, committed 19 double faults, including four straight at one point.
   Fifth-seeded Kiki Bertens, a French Open semifinalist in 2016, saved a match point and overcame cramps in her 7-6 (5), 3-6, 9-7 victory over 33-year-old Italian qualifier Sara Errani, the 2012 runner-up to Sharapova at Roland Garros, in 3 hours, 11 minutes.
   Bertens, who had been 0-5 against Errani, left the court in a wheelchair. Errani committed 14 double faults.
   Top-seeded Simona Halep, who won the 2018 French Open for the first of her two Grand Slam singles titles, beat fellow Romanian Irina-Camelia Begu 6-3, 6-4 to set up a rematch against 25th-seeded Amanda Anisimova, a 19-year-old American. 
   Anisimova, who won her first professional title in the 2017 Sacramento (Calif.) Challenger at 15, stunned Halep 6-2, 6-4 in the quarterfinals of last year's French Open. 
   In the first round of men's doubles:
   —Third-seeded Rajeev Ram, a volunteer assistant coach at the University of California, Berkeley, and Joe Salisbury of Great Britain beat French wild cards Gregoire Barrere and Quentin Halys 6-4, 7-6 (1). 
   —Second-seeded Marcel Granollers of Spain and Horacio Zeballos of Argentina edged California natives Steve Johnson and Sam Querrey, who was born in San Francisco, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4).
   In Northern California Challenger singles, Granollers advanced to the 2018 final in Tiburon, Johnson won the Aptos crown in 2012 and 2019, and Querrey swept the three-week swing in 2014.
   —Ninth-seeded Wesley Koolhof of the Netherlands and Nikola Mektic of Croatia downed Luke Bambridge of Great Britain and former Cal star Ben McLachlan, a New Zealand native who plays for his mother's native Japan, 6-4, 7-6 (4).
   Koolhof and Mektic reached the U.S. Open final, losing to Mate Pavic of Croatia and Bruno Soares of Brazil.

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