Sharapova saunters through

Maria Sharapova marked her first appearance on Court Philippe Chatrier in three years with a 6-2, 6-1 rout of Karolina Pliskova to set-up a blockbuster French Open last-16 duel with nemesis Serena Williams on Saturday, while 10-time champion Rafael Nadal defeated childhood friend Richard Gasquet for the 16th time.

Five-time Grand Slam champion Sharapova, the winner in Paris in 2012 and 2014, hadn't played on Roland Garros' showpiece arena since a quarterfinal exit in 2015.

The 31-year-old served a doping suspension in 2016 and was refused a wildcard in 2017. However, she made up for lost time by firing 18 winners past an under-cooked Pliskova, the sixth seed, in just under an hour.

She will next face either 23-time Grand Slam champion Williams, who blasted past German 11th seed Julia Goerges 6-3, 6-4.

Sharapova and Serena have met 21 times, with the American leading the head-to-head record 19-2 after 18 consecutive wins dating back to 2004.

Nadal continued his bid for an 11th French Open title by brushing aside Gasquet to claim a 16th consecutive win over his childhood friend. The world number one's record at Roland Garros now stands at 82 wins and just two losses. The 16-time Grand Slam champion eased to a 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 victory on Chatrier.

The 31-year-old also took his run of consecutive completed sets at the French Open to 34, just seven shy of the record held by Bjorn Borg between 1979 and 1981.

Nadal, who lost only two points in the first five games, will next play Germany's world number 70 Maximilian Marterer, who beat Estonian lucky loser Jurgen Zopp.

Former champion Garbine Muguruza reached the last 16 for the fifth successive year with a comfortable 6-0, 6-2 win over Australia's Sam Stosur.

Spanish third seed Muguruza, the 2016 winner in Paris and the reigning Wimbledon champion, fired 15 winners past Stosur, the 34-year-old 2010 runner-up and former US Open champion.

 

The Spaniard goes on to face Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine who knocked out Slovakian 19th seed Magdalena Rybarikova 6-2, 6-4.

Estonian 25th seed Anett Kontaveit made the last 16 for the first time by downing Czech eighth seed Petra Kvitova who saw her 13-match win streak end in a horror show of 57 unforced errors.

Kontaveit next faces US Open champion Sloane Stephens, the American 10th seed, who saw off Italy's Camila Giorgi 4-6, 6-1, 8-6.

Italy's Fabio Fognini made the last 16 for the second time with a 6-3, 4-6, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 win over Britain's last man standing Kyle Edmund.

Juan Martin del Potro fired a menacing warning to those already writing Nadal's name on the French Open trophy with a bludgeoning 7-5, 6-4, 6-1 third-round defeat of Spanish clay-courter Albert Ramos-Vinolas.

Caroline Garcia suffered some late jitters but produced an impressive performance to beat Romania's Irina-Camelia Begu 6-1, 6-3 and reach the last 16. The seventh seed played neatly throughout, committing only 13 unforced errors -- three times less than in the previous round -- to set up a meeting with German Angelique Kerber or Belgian Kiki Bertens.

Marin Cilic brought out his A-game to swiftly dispatch hapless American Steve Johnson 6-3, 6-2, 6-4. The Croatian third seed whipped nine aces and 35 winners past Johnson to reach the last 16 for the fifth time in 12 visits.

Those fans packed into the intimate Court One bullring might have hoped for a longer contest than the 94-minute drubbing but the Croatian made sure not everyone went away disappointed.

Top seed Simona Halep eased to a 7-5, 6-0 victory over German Andrea Petkovic to reach the fourth round. Petkovic struggled with a right knee injury in the second set as Romanian Halep moved into the second week at Roland Garros for the fourth time.

 

Results (prefix denotes seeding): Third round: Men’s singles: 1-Rafael Nadal (ESP) bt 27-Richard Gasquet (FRA) 6-3, 6-2, 6-2; Maximilian Marterer (GER) bt Jurgen Zopp (EST) 6-2, 6-1, 6-4; 18-Fabio Fognini (ITA) bt 16-Kyle Edmund (GBR) 6-3, 4-6, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4; Karen Khachanov (RUS) bt 15-Lucas Pouille (FRA) 6-3, 7-5, 6-3; Maximilian Marterer (GER) bt Jurgen Zopp (EST) 6-2, 6-1, 6-4; 8-David Goffin (BEL) bt 32-Gael Monfils (FRA) 6-7 (6/8), 6-3, 4-6, 7-5, 6-3; Karen Khachanov (RUS) bt 15-Lucas Pouille (FRA) 6-3, 7-5, 6-3.

Women’s singles: 1-Simona Halep (ROU) bt Andrea Petkovic (GER) 7-5, 6-0; 3-Garbine Muguruza (ESP) bt Sam Stosur (AUS) 6-0, 6-2; Lesia Tsurenko (UKR) bt 19-Magdalena Rybarikova (SVK) 6-2, 6-4; 28-Maria Sharapova (RUS) bt 6-Karolina Pliskova (CZE) 6-2, 6-1; 25-Anett Kontaveit (EST) bt 8-Petra Kvitova (CZE) 7-6 (8/6), 7-6 (7/4); 10-Sloane Stephens (USA) bt Camila Giorgi (ITA) 4-6, 6-1, 8-6.

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Sharapova saunters through

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