Serena survives, Sharapova out
For the third match in a row at the French Open, Serena Williams was oddly out of sorts at the outset and dropped the opening set.
And for the third match in a row, almost as though this was the plan all along, Williams righted herself to pull out a victory.
In a riveting, two-hour showdown between the last two American women in the draw, the No. 1-ranked and No. 1-seeded Williams was a game away from defeat yesterday, then came back to beat Sloane Stephens 1-6, 7-5, 6-3.
Williams reached the quarterfinals and avoided joining defending champion Maria Sharapova on the way out of Roland Garros.
"It's not how you start, I guess. It's how you finish," Williams said. "That's kind of how I'm looking at it".
Either Williams, in 2013, or Sharapova, in 2012 and 2014, has won the French Open the past three years. Only Williams has a chance to do it again on Saturday because the second-seeded Sharapova was outplayed throughout a 7-6 (3), 6-4 loss to 13th-seeded Lucie Safarova.
"My opponent had a different gear than I did," Sharapova said after her earliest exit at Roland Garros since 2010.
Sharapova did not use the cold she has been dealing with as an excuse, saying: "I don't like to talk about it, and I don't think it really makes a difference."
In her first French Open quarter-final, Safarova will face No. 21 Garbine Muguruza of Spain, who beat No. 28 Flavia Pennetta of Italy 6-3, 6-4.
Djokovic vs Nadal
On a day full of tennis' biggest names, the Big 4 of the men's game - Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, and Andy Murray - all won. The top-seeded Djokovic and nine-time French Open champion Nadal will play in the quarter-finals tomorrow, a rematch of last year's final.
Nadal eliminated the last U.S. man, Jack Sock, 6-3, 6-1, 5-7, 6-2, while Djokovic had no trouble in a 6-1, 6-2, 6-3 win over Richard Gasquet.
Federer needed about an hour to finish his 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 victory over GaÎl Monfils in a match suspended because of darkness after the second set Sunday. Federer next faces Swiss Davis Cup teammate Stan Wawrinka, and Murray will play 2013 French Open runner-up David Ferrer.