Crowd favorite ends Riske’s run at French

  • Staff and wire reports
May 29, 2014
Alison Riske returns the ball to France’s Kristina Mladenovic during their second round match of the French Open Thursday. - Associated Press

PARIS – Alison Riske’s first appearance in the French Open tennis tournament ended after two rounds.

Riske, a Peters Township native, was defeated Thursday by crowd favorite Kristina Mladenovic of France, 7-6 (5), 3-6, 6-3.

Mladenovic, who upset second-seeded Li Na, a former winner at Roland Garros and the Australian Open champion in January, in the first round, followed it with a close victory over Riske in a match that lasted more than 2 1/2 hours.

With the majority of the crowd of 15,000 at Court Philippe Chatrier cheering for Mladenovic, Riske trailed 6-1 in the first-set tiebreaker before rallying and pulling to within 6-5. Mladenovic, however, served out the set-winning point.

Riske dominated the second set, taking advantage of five double faults and 18 unforced errors by Mladenovic. The final set, however, was won by Mladenovic, who was sparked by three aces. Mladenovic broke to go up 3-1 in the third set. Riske immediately broke back, but then was promptly broken again. Mladenovic served it out with no further breaks to win.

Riske was attempting to reach the third round in her fourth consecutive Grand Slam tournament, something no other American woman was able to do at Roland Garros.

Though she described the loud French crowd as “respectful,” Riske said it did bother her.

“Emotionally, I feel I didn’t handle the situation that well,” Riske told reporters. “The focus wasn’t exactly on my tennis, as it should be. And when you don’t focus on playing well and doing what you’re out there to do, what you’re out there to do doesn’t happen.

“The whole environment made it difficult to calm myself down. I got too psyched up, too into the moment. I didn’t calm my adrenaline, couldn’t calm myself so I could play my game in that environment.”

Eight-time men’s champion Rafael Nadal improved his French Open record to 61-1 by beating big-hitting Dominic Thiem of Austria 6-2, 6-2, 6-3.

The Spaniard’s only defeat at Roland Garros was in the fourth round against Robin Soderling five years ago. He was never in danger of losing this time, but was occasionally on the back foot as Thiem went for his shots throughout the match and broke the top-seeded Nadal’s serve twice.

“It was a dangerous match, dangerous opponent today,” Nadal said. “I am happy with the way I resisted. When I had to play long points, I did well. When I had to attack and move him, I think I did well.”

Nadal, who sealed victory on his second match point, next faces either Leonardo Mayer of Argentina, who beat Russia’s Teymuraz Gabashvili 6-2, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4.

Fifth-seeded David Ferrer of Spain, last year’s runner-up to Nadal; Briton’s Andy Murray, seeded seventh, and No. 12 Richard Gasquet of France also advanced to the third round in straight sets.

Ferrer beat Italy’s Simone Bolelli 6-2, 6-3, 6-2; the two-time Grand Slam champion Murray followed up with a 6-3, 6-1, 6-3 win against Australia’s Marinko Matosevic, and Gasquet won 7-6 (5), 6-4, 6-4 against Carlos Berlocq of Argentina.

Also, No. 14 Fabio Fognini of Italy beat Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (2); 19th-seeded Kevin Anderson of South Africa beat Axel Michon 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 and American Donald Young won 6-1, 7-6 (1), 6-3 against No. 26 Feliciano Lopez.

In the women’s draw, fourth-seeded Simona Halep of Romania beat Britain’s Heather Watson 6-2, 6-4; No. 5 Petra Kvitova won 6-4, 6-4 against Marina Erakovic, No. 6 Sixth-seeded Jelena Jankovic won 7-5, 6-0 against Japan’s Kurumi Nara, and No. 10 Sara Errani of Italy – a runner-up in 2012 – won 6-2, 6-4 against Germany’s Dinah Pfizenmaier.



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