Sunday 18 February 2018

All change in women's ranks as Radwanska joins fallen stars

World number three Agnieszka Radwanska shakes hands with Ajla Tomljanovic after their match at the French Open yesterday. Photo: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images
World number three Agnieszka Radwanska shakes hands with Ajla Tomljanovic after their match at the French Open yesterday. Photo: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

The French Open began with talk of a changing of the guard at the top of men's tennis, but as the first week comes to an end it is the women's game in which a new world order is developing.

For the first time at a Grand Slam tournament in the Open era, the top three women's seeds have all lost before the fourth round. Agnieszka Radwanska, the world No 3, yesterday joined Serena Williams and Li Na among the fallen when she was beaten 6-4 6-4 by Croatia's Ajla Tomljanovic.

Simona Halep, a 22-year-old Romanian who until this year had never reached a Grand Slam quarter-final, is now the highest-ranked player left in the women's tournament as the world No 4.

The favourite to win the title, however, is Maria Sharapova. The 27-year-old Russian, who won here in 2012 and was runner-up last year, yesterday earned a fourth-round showdown with Australia's Samantha Stosur by crushing Argentina's Paula Ormaechea 6-0 6-0 in just 51 minutes.

Like Garbine Muguruza and Kristina Mladenovic, who beat Williams and Li respectively, Tomljanovic was born in 1993. The 21-year-old Croat, ranked No 72 in the world, is playing in only her fourth Grand Slam tournament.

Tomljanovic said her victory over Radwanska had been inspired by the feats of Muguruza and Mladenovic. "After seeing the two first seeds go out, you kind of feel like I can do this too," she said. "I grew up with these girls. I went out there and I really, really thought inside that I could win."

Muguruza extended her run by beating Slovakia's Anna Karolina Schmiedlova, who had beaten Venus Williams in the previous round, 6-2 6-4. Stosur, a former finalist here, beat Dominika Cibulkova, runner-up at this year's Australian Open, 6-4 6-4.

Taylor Townsend, an 18-year-old American, has also struck a blow for the younger generation with her performances this week, though her run ended yesterday when she was beaten 6-2 6-2 by Spain's Carla Suarez Navarro.

FRENCH OPEN, LIVE, ITV4 /SETANTA IRL/EUROSPORT, 9.30am

Irish Independent

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