Muchova sends a forehand long, after another entertaining rally, to seal a Stephens break at the start of the first set!
Stephens wins the first set, 6-3!
This has been a really interesting and engaging contest: Muchova has been mixing things up with a few clever drop shots, but Stephens has generally been in the ascendancy, taking every advantage with her accomplished forehand and showing ability to dictate the terms of many of the rallies from the baseline.
Muchova moves to 40-0 on her serve, including a drop shot that flicks off the net cord (Muchova raising a hand by way of apology), and a lob which Stephens decided not to play but drops just inside the tramlines. Muchova then seals a love hold with another drop shot – and the American Stephens will serve for the first set at 5-3.
Schwartzman is really making Kohlschreiber work to hold serve in that first set, but the German finally does it, and it’s 5-4 to the Argentinian who will try to serve it out now.
Cecchinato wins his first set against Musetti, 6-3.
The Stephens forehand is causing Muchova plenty of issues. The American earns a second advantage – and wins the game when the Czech sends a volley long. The umpire gets out of his seat and jogs to the back of the court to check the mark, raises his finger in confirmation, and it’s 5-2 to Stephens in this very engaging first set.
Muchova takes it deuce on Stephens’ serve. Muchova then wins a break point with a fine, powerful forehand into the corner on her opponent’s backhand side.
But Stephens then saves the break point with a big forehand of her own which Muchova can only dump in the net.
On court, Stephens and Muchova both hold serve, and it’s 4-2 in the first set.
Kohlschreiber is serving to stay in the first set against Schwartman at 3-5.
Sloane Stephens has had a terribly tough year, having lost two grandparents and an aunt to Covid-19, and has said that she wishes she had attended her grandparents’ funeral instead of being in isolation ahead of the Australian Open:
“I should have asked to go to my grandparents’ funeral,” she told the New York Times earlier this week. “I should have made those inquiries and seen if I could get out of the bubble and go home. I didn’t. It’s something that I’ll probably regret for the rest of my life, because I prioritized my tennis over things that were happening in my life. The only thing I can do now is move on and move forward. There’s nothing wrong with having a therapist or two and a grief counselor and all of these things. I have to do what’s best for me and work on myself.”
Schwartzman has broken Kohlschreiber, to go 4-2 up, and now Stephens breaks Muchova for 3-1 in the first set!
Elsewhere in the men’s singles, Marco Cecchinato is 4-2 up on Lorenzo Musetti on Court 7.
Stephens wins a break point with a lovely sliced backhand down the line. Muchova saves it with a delicate (and brave) drop shot – a much better effort than her previous one.
Stephens is seeing it – and hitting it – remarkably well. She wrests control of a rally with a booming backhand, crosscourt, and finishes off the point in style. She is dictating the terms more often than not.
Schwartzman and Kohlschreiber are under way on Suzanne Lenglen and it’s 2-2 in the first set.
Stephens wins four points in a row to hold her second service game, and it’s 2-1 in the American’s favour against Muchova.
Muchova finally manages to hold: she had to work for that, and this is shaping up to be a closely-fought – and very entertaining – affair. 1-1.
Muchova tries a drop shot for the first time but Stephens runs it down easily and puts away a forehand winner. Back to deuce.
Muchova is now having to work to hold her first service game. Stephens takes it to deuce after a marathon rally, both players hitting wonderfully well early in this match. Muchova grabs advantage, but Stephens stays aliver with an excellent forehand on to Muchova’s toes as the Czech comes forward, and she can only direct it into the net.
Sloane Stephens holds serve against Karolina Muchova to begin their third-round match. It was an interesting first game, with both players hitting the ball sweetly and powerfully. Muchova produced one brilliant clean backhanded winner on Stephens’ second serve, but Stephens generally had the best of the rallies and she is on the board in solid style.
Here is Tumaini Carayol’s report from yesterday, including Serena Williams’ win against Danielle Collins, as well as Aryna Sabalenka’s defeat by Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova:
Sloane Stephens v Karolina Muchova (seeded 18) is first up on Court Simonne Mathieu, a match I will focus on to begin with. I’ll bring you live scores from across the other courts, of course. If you have any thoughts on the day’s action, you can drop me an email or tweet @LukeMcLaughlin.
As the days tick by at Roland Garros and the field thins out, the big guns are naturally becoming more noticeable in the order of play: the men’s singles today sees Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal take to the clay for their third-round matches. Nadal, the 13-times French Open champion, will go into battle later today against Cameron Norrie, the British No 2, while Djokovic takes on Ricardas Berankis of Lithuania and Federer meets the left-handed German Dominik Koepfer.
British fans will be fascinated to see how Norrie gets on: he was impressively consistent in his second-round win against Lloyd Harris, but will he have the weapons to trouble the king of clay? We will find out from around 1.15pm.
In the women’s competition, a few big names have admittedly fallen early: Naomi Osaka withdrew, sparking a global debate about mental health and media coverage which rumbles on, while Ash Barty, the world No 1, was forced to retire from the tournament with a hip injury. The reigning champion Iga Swiatek of Poland is still very much in contention, however, in ominous form, and is clearly feeling increasingly confident about a second title. Swiatek faces a potentially tricky tie against 30th seed Estonian Anett Kontaveit this afternoon, scheduled on court at 3pm. Barbora Krejcikova will be the opposition for Elina Svitolina (5) on Philippe-Chatrier from 11am, while the fourth seed Sofia Kenin meets her American compatriot Jessica Pegula on Court Suzanne Lenglen. Coco Gauff v Jennifer Brady is another all-American affair from 3.15pm.
There is light cloud covering Paris at the moment but no rain is expected, and the sun is scheduled to peep through the clouds later in the day. Let’s get started!
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