Meantime, Safiullin consolidates well, and given how he’s served today, he’ll fancy himself to hold it down. Zverev 7-6(4) 1-3 Safiullin
Bencic fights through a hold, so Kasatkina will now serve for the match at 5-2. There were signs in that last game that Bencic was finding some range – she delivered two colossal forehands – but she’ll need to find the consistency that’s eluded her thus far.
Zverev sends down an eighth double, hammers his racket into the court – that’ll learn it – and at 1-1, Safiullin has a break point … which he converts when Zverev dumps a forehand! He looks extremely displeased on his way to sit down.
Bencic forces Kasatkina to deuce, but Kasatkina is grooved and consolidates for 5-1. Meanwhile, Siniakova has taken her breaker against Kudermetova 9-7, while Vondrousova is now a break up on Tan at 2-1.
You’ve got to laugh. Bencic saves three double-break points, then facing a fourth, Siniakova’s backhand clips the net cord, leaps over her racket and drops in. At 4-1 in the second set, this looks very close to over.
We’re away on Chatrier now, Tan taking the first game against Vondrousova – who played really well to come back and beat Kanepi in round one.
Zverev cedes one of his mini-breaks via careless forehand, but a booming ace out wide preserves the other and secures the set. Zverev 7-6(4) Safiullin
This is excellent from Zverev, his serve firing and a precise overhead giving him 5-2. Surely he’ll close out this time?
Have a look! Two doubles, some poor shot-selection, and Safiullin breaks Zverev! Or, in other words, I am a idiot. They’ll now play a breaker, and they way the Russian has served so far, it’s no gimme.
Kecmanovic, who played so well in beating Dan Evans on Monday, has taken the first set against Djere; Andujar served out for 6-4 against Delbonis; Cirstea broke to do likewise against Trevias; and Siniakova and Kudermetova have gone to a breaker.
Temper temper; do people still say that? Kasatkina puts Bencic under more pressure, hitting to her forehand at 15-30 and inciting the error; Bencic duly introduces racket to clay. She then saves the first break point, but a tame backhand into the top of the net puts her in all sorts. Kasatkina 6-2 2-1 Bencic
Zverev turns it up, a succession of bousting groundstrokes, mainly down the middle, turning 15-30 into 15-40. Safiullin has served really well so far, but two humungous forehands from Zverev, inside-out onto the sideline, then cross-court to the corner, earn him the break. Hell now serve for the set at 6-5, and this looks a lot like class telling.
We’re at the various business ends now. On Lenglen, Zverev is serving at 4-5 … and it’s now 5-5; Cirstea, conqueror of Konta, leads Trevisan 5-4, on serve; Andujar, triumphant over Thiem, leads Delbonis 5-4 with a break; and Siniakova has broken Kudermetova back so they’re now at 4-5.
On seven, Brengle fought her way back against Zidansek, only to be broken once she’d got level, losing the set 6-4 in the process.
Down 2-5, Bencic improves a little with the new balls, fighting her way to deuce. But Kasatkina serves out to take the first set 6-2, and the number 10 seed has a pack of graft to get done.
In commentary, they say that someone – Yevgeny Kafelnikov I think – reckons that of all the women on the tour, Kasatkina has realised least of her potential, which is to say she’s very good. And Bencic is feeling it, broken again – this time to love. Kasatkina leads 5-2 and is serving for the set.
I said earlier that Zverev looked comfy out there; behold his rig. He’s also just deployed the monster-serve to save a break point, quickly closing out thereafter.
Out on court seven, Tamara Zidansek – who played brilliantly in outlasting Bianca Andreescu, the number six seed, in round one – has carried on her good form. She leads Madison Brengle 5-1, while on 14, Kudermetova – seeded 29 – is 4-1 up on Siniakova.
Annabel Croft reckons it’ll be Tsitsipas who makes the final from the bottom half of the draw which also features Zverev; that seems fair enough to me, and I’m sure he’s chuffed that Djokovic and Nadal are in the top. They’ll likely meet in the semis, and what an epic that could be. Anyway, we’re getting ahead of waselves; currently, Safiullin is playing nicely and leads 3-2 on serve.
Yep, Kasatkina is a player, and she puts Bencic’s serve under pressure with a booming backhand down the line that earns break point … which she then converts thanks to a double. Kasatkina 2-1 Bencic
It’s only 1-1, but Zverev looks really comfy out there. Thing is, we know he’s a reliable eliminator of inferior opponents, problem is he rarely beats those ranked higher.
I’m also watching Bencic v Kasatkina. Bencic, the number 10 seed, had a decent win against Podoroska in round one, but Kasatkina is a player and has reached the last eight if this competition before. She does really well to survive a break point in her first service game; it’s now 1-1.
Zverev had a tricky opening encounter, forced to come from two sets down to beat Oscar Otte. But he did so in grand style, taking the three that he won 2, 2 and 0; I didn’t see that match, but it looks a lot like he took time to settle, then imposed himself as you’d expect.
Sascha Zverev, then. Will he ever win a major? Er, if I’m going to answer my own question I’d say that the answer is no because there’ll always be someone better, but his win at the Madrid Open, featuring wins over Thiem and Nadal, hinted at a better tomorrow. I’d be surprised if he sorted things this time, but as long as he keeps improving there’s always a chance.
Order of play on the show courts
Tan v Vondoursova 
Khachanov  v Nishikori
Williams S  v Buzarnescu
Paul v Medvedev  (evening session)
Zverev  v Safiullin
Hercog v Garcia
Tsitsipas  v Martinez
Sasnovich v Sabalenka 
Kasatkina v Bencic 
Laaksonen v Bautista Agut 
Azarenka  v Tauson
Couacaud v Carreno Busta 
Morning! And welcome to another sizzling day of Roland-Garros goodness. Sticking out a mile, we’ve got Karen Khachanov  v Kei Nishikori – they’re up second on Chatrier – but there’s plenty more besides. Sasnovich v Sabalenka  looks a belter, and we’ve also got Vondrousova, Serena, Zverev and Tsitsipas – among others. On y va!
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