French Open will have first-time Grand Slam champ


Associated Press

PARIS

Garbine Muguruza did not take kindly to the way spectators pulled for her opponent — her French opponent, mind you — at the French Open.

So after her title defense ended with a 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 loss to 13th-seeded Kristina Mladenovic at a packed and rowdy Court Suzanne Lenglen on a surprise-filled Sunday that left zero past Grand Slam champions in the women’s field, Muguruza walked toward the locker room while wagging a finger toward the stands, as if to say, “Tsk, tsk!”

“The crowd was really tough today,” Muguruza said at a news conference that was halted at one point so she could compose herself after getting choked up.

“Sometimes,” she added, “(fans) should be a little bit more respectful.”

All four of the day’s fourth-round matches pitted one woman who has won at least one major trophy (Muguruza, Venus Williams, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Samantha Stosur) against a woman who has not. And each time, the less-accomplished player won. Add it all up, and it means that there will be a first-time major title winner at the end of the tournament.

About an hour after Muguruza’s exit, seven-time major champion Williams lost to 30th-seeded Timea Bacsinszky 5-7, 6-2, 6-1 at Court Philippe Chatrier.

“She had so many answers today,” said Williams, who also lost to Bacsinszky in the fourth round a year ago.

Kuznetsova, who won the 2009 French Open and 2004 U.S. Open, was ousted by two-time major runner-up Caroline Wozniacki 6-1, 4-6, 6-2, while 2011 U.S. Open champion Stosur was eliminated by 19-year-old Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia 2-6, 6-2, 6-4.

Mladenovic will face Bacsinszky next, and Wozniacki meets Ostapenko. In addition, all eight women who play in the fourth round Monday are seeking a first major title, so it will be the first French Open since 1977 — and first major tournament anywhere since the 1979 Australian Open — without a past Slam champion among the quarterfinalists.

Asked for her thoughts on the way things worked out, Williams replied: “I have no idea. It’s all behind me now, so whatever happens in this tournament is not necessarily my concern anymore.”

In men’s action, nine-time champion Rafael Nadal and defending champion Novak Djokovic both won in straight sets to reach the quarterfinals in Paris for the 11th time, equaling Roger Federer’s record for the professional era. Next up: Nadal vs. No. 20 Pablo Carreno Busta, and Djokovic vs. No. 6 Dominic Thiem, with the winners facing off in the semifinals.

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