Women’s top seed Victoria Azarenka was knocked out of the French Open today, while men’s No. 1 Novak Djokovic and 2009 champion Roger Federer both struggled before reaching the quarterfinals.
Azarenka lost to No. 15 seed Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia 6-2, 7-6 (7-4) on Court Suzanne Lenglen on a cold and windy day at Roland Garros.
“Right now I’m just really, really unhappy with the way I played,” Azarenka told reporters. “I’m going to look for what I did wrong to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” said the Belarussian, who had smashed her racket on the clay early on in the second set.
Azarenka, who became No. 1 in January after winning her first Grand Slam title at the Australian Open, struggled to find her early season form in Paris, coming to within two games in her opening round of becoming the first female top seed to lose at that stage at Roland Garros. She began 2012 on a win streak of 26 matches, the longest to start the season since Martina Hingis of Switzerland in 1997.
“In the tiebreak I’m very, very proud of myself that I was still going for my shots, and I just made it because she would never give me the match,” said Cibulkova, who struck 28 winners while Azarenka had 19.
Over on the main Court Philippe Chatrier, Djokovic fought back from two sets down for only the third time in his career to beat Italy’s Andreas Seppi, 4-6, 6-7 (5-7), 6-3, 7-5, 6-3.
“It was obvious he played well and I played terrible,” Djokovic said in a televised interview after the match. The Serb converted only 9 out of 22 breakpoints, while Seppi made six of 10. Djokovic plays either Switzerland’s Stanislas Wawrinka or France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarterfinals.
Federer, a 16-time major winner from Switzerland, overcame a challenge by David Goffin, the first lucky loser into the last sixteen of a major since fellow Belgian Dick Norman at Wimbledon in 1995. The 21-year-old, playing in his first major, used to have posters of the Swiss on his wall as he was growing up.
The third-seeded Federer beat the 109th-ranked Goffin, 5-7, 7-5, 6-2, 6-4 to move to his 32nd straight Grand Slam quarterfinal, where he’ll play the winner of the match between former Wimbledon finalist Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic and 2009 U.S. Open winner Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina.
Serbia’s Djokovic, 25, is trying to win his fourth straight major title to complete a non-calendar Grand Slam. The last man to do so is Australia’s Rod Laver, who swept the titles in 1969. Laver, who also achieved the feat in 1962, and American Don Budge in 1938 are the only men to win four in a row in one calendar year.
Earlier today, Svetlana Kuznetsova, the 2009 champion from Russia, lost to Italy’s Sara Errani, 6-0, 7-5.
U.S. Open champion Samantha Stosur of Australia, a finalist in Paris in 2010, plays American teenager Sloane Stephens.
Stephens, 19, is one of two unseeded American women into the fourth round of a major for the first time since 2002 at Wimbledon. Yesterday, Varvara Lepchenko of the U.S. upset 2010 winner Francesca Schiavone in three sets. No American men reached the third round in Paris this year, the worst result since 2007.
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