Maria Sharapova, Victoria Azarenka, Jelena Jankovic, Simona Halep, Sloane Stephens and Dominika Cibulkova advance to the fourth round.
The only surprise came from Garbine Muguruza, who won her first WTA tour event in Hobart earlier in the month as a qualifier and has knocked out 10th seed Caroline Wozniacki in the third round. She’ll play Agnieszka Radwanska next.

Grigor Dimitrov beats Milos Raonic in 3 sets to reach his first ever 4th round at a Slam. He next faces Roberto Bautista Agut who followed his upset win over Juan Martin del Potro with a straight sets victoy over Benoit Paire.
Andy Murray defeats Feliciano Lopez for the eight time in eight match and will meet lucky loser Stéphane Robert in the last 16.
Roger Federer advanced to the fourth round for the 13th consecutive year following his win over Teymuraz Gabashvili. He’ll face Jo-Wilfried Tsonga who beat countryman Gilles Simon for a place in the quaterfinals.
Kei Nishikori beat Donald Young, the last American man in the singles draw in straight sets. His next opponent: Rafael Nadal who dismantled Gael Monfils 6-1 6-2 6-3.

Seeds upsets:

Garbine Muguruza def Caroline Wozniacki (10), Roberto Bautista Agut def Benoit Paire (27)

Video highlights:

Video of the day: Famous. Favored. Fallen.


Matches to follow on Day 7:

Serena Williams (1) – Ana Ivanovic (14)
Fabio Fognini (15) – Novak Djokovic (2)
Stanislas Wawrinka (8) – Tommy Robredo (17)

Enjoy a few more pics from this year’s French Open. Thanks a lot to Loic!

Jelena Jankovic

Sam Stosur

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

Roger Federer

Serena Williams

Serena Williams

By Mauro Cappiello

At the very last moment, someone must have told Mayor Gianni Alemanno that the Trevi Fountain was not the best location for the draw ceremony of the “Internazionali”, the Rome Masters that will start tomorrow. With all the tourists of a Saturday morning and the people come for tennis, that little square would have risked an explosion. That’s why the event was moved to the Maxxi, the Museum of Arts of the 21st century, which is not very far from the Olympic Stadium and the Foro Italico. Needless to say, the setting was not as suggestive as last year, when a lot more people were attracted by the Spanish Steps, a big media promotion and also by Andy Murray and Ana Ivanovic.

The other Serb Jelena Jankovic, twice a champion here in Rome, was the only international star this year, even though, due to their early exits in Madrid, super champions like Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic were already in Rome. She arrived at the museum carried by a double-decker city sightseeing bus, along with the journalists and the other players Andreas Seppi, Fabio Fognini, Flavia Pennetta and Roberta Vinci. Italian Tennis Federation president Angelo Binaghi and ever-lasting local heroes of the last century Nicola Pietrangeli and Lea Pericoli were also there.

Roberta Vinci, Flavia Pennetta, Jelena Jankovic, Fabio Fognini and Andreas Seppi

Jelena Jankovic

Right from Jelena’s hands came off the news that the organizers were not hoping for. The two best ranked Italian players, Andreas Seppi and Fabio Fognini, will meet in the first round, just like in Monte Carlo. This time, the winner will play Rafael Nadal… At least we’ll have a packed Centre Court in the first or second day of the tournament, as noticed by Massimo Caputi, master of the ceremony and media officer at the Italian Tennis Federation.

Andreas Seppi

Actually, there was no need for an Italian “derby” in the early days to sell tickets, because the Centre Court and the Supertennis Arena (the new 4000 seat stadium, inaugurated last year) are already sold out, in spite of an aggressive policy by the Federation that has seen the tickets more than double their price since the tournament has been turned into a combined event.

It must be said that the Rome Masters has grown a lot in reputation, compared to the 90’s and the early 2000’s. Some top players skip Monte Carlo and some have criticized Madrid (especially last year), but nobody wants to miss Rome, the last big tune-up event before the French Open and the more probative one, because the conditions of play are very similar to those in Paris. A new free TV channel, Supertennis, owned by the Italian Federation, broadcasts the entire women’s tournament and that contributed to make the event more popular among the young generations.

Roberta Vinci

Andreas Seppi

That’s also why people are willing to pay 50 euros for a Thursday daily session ticket on the Center Court “Tribuna Internazionale Sud” booked via Internet, while they could have that same ticket at the tournament office at the entrance for 20 euros until some years ago, when the event was held over two weeks and the Stadium was not yet “one of the best for tennis”, as some players praised it.
But if you’re looking for that ticket now, your only chance is eBay or to find someone who sells it before the gates. Don’t expect a lower price, though…
Else, you can still find tickets for the grounds, which are always the best place to have a closer view of the players and take better pictures. If you are lucky enough, you can see the big champions practice and even speak some words with them.

More pics of this year’s draw on Flickr. Enjoy some pics and video of Rome Masters 2012 draw ceremony.

Fila announced today the debut of a special patriotic performance tennis apparel collection to be worn exclusively by Fila athletes on the courts of the All England Club during the 2012 London Games.
The collection consists of unique designs of men’s and women’s performance tennis apparel for eight different countries (Serbia, Russia, Romania, Kazakhstan, Slovenia, Spain, Italy and New Zealand).

Jelena Jankovic will wear a red, royal and white dress that she will also wear for Fed Cup play.

Available on Fila.com

The good:

A sunny first week filled with big upsets and emotions

The feel good story of the tournament: Virginie Razzano

Prior to the 2011 French Open’s start, Razzano’s fiancé Stéphane Vidal died of a brain tumor. He had encouraged her to go ahead and enter the tournament, so she did, honoring his memory by stepping on court to play, but lost in the first round.
At the 2012 French Open, Razzano handed Serena Williams her first-ever first-round defeat at a major. Razzano came back from a set and 1-5 down in the second-set tie-break to emerge victorious 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-3. She was up 5-0 in the final set at one point and needed eight match points to close out the match. She lost to Arantxa Rus in the second round.

Maria Sharapova:
Despite her countless magazine covers, numerous contracts with Nike, Tiffany, Canon and co, Sharapova’s main goal is to win tennis trophies. She beat surprise finalist Sara Errani 6-3, 6-2 to win her first French Open title and become the 10th woman with a career Grand Slam.

Maria Sharapova

Novak Djokovic:
He could have been the first man since Rod Laver to hold the 4 Grand Slam trophies at the same time, but Nadal was just better than him in final.

Sam Stosur:
Another great performance in Paris for Sam… until her nervous breakdown in semifinals against Errani. She has vowed to use the pain of another French Open heartache (remember that final against Schiavone?) as the spur to one day reign supreme in Paris.

Sam Stosur

David Ferrer: a bittersweet performance for Ferru: he reached the semifinals for the first time at Roland Garros, but Nadal was merciless and dismantled him 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 in 1 hour and 46 minutes.

Sara Errani: it was the Slam of a lifetime for Errani. She beat two former French open champions (Ana Ivanovic and Svetlana Kuznetsova) and two top 10 players (Angelique Kerber and Sam Stosur) en route for her first Grand Slam final. I really doubt she will repeat her performance at another Grand Slam, but you never know with these Italian players…
She also teamed with Roberta Vinci to win the doubles title, beating Maria Kirilenko and Nadia Petrova 4-6, 6-4, 6-2.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga: 4 match points against Djokovic and a ton of regrets.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

Sloane Stephens:
The 19-year-old American showed great potential and advanced to the fourth round for the first time in a Grand Slam. Could she be the “Next Great Thing” in American tennis?

Sloane Stephens

Arnaud Clément:
Beaten by David Goffin in the second round, Clement, 34, played his last Roland Garros. He is one of the favorite (along Cédric Pioline) to be named France’s new Davis Cup captain.

Arnaud Clement

The bad:

A second week wasted by rain and by the questionable decisions made regarding the schedule (Tsonga-Wawinka, Nadal-Djokovic…)

Serena Williams:
Serena Williams was 46-0 in first-round matches at Grand Slams before her stunning loss to Virginie Razzano at Roland Garros.

Roger Federer:
Even though he reached the semifinals again and passed Jimmy Connors for the most Grand Slam wins in the Open Era ( 237 for Federer, 233 for Connors), Roger Federer never looked like a real contender the past two weeks.
Beaten in straights by Novak Djokovic, the Swiss hasn’t won a Grand Slam in over two years. Can he bounce back at Wimbledon?

Roger Federer

Juan-Martin Del Potro: he lead Federer by two sets to love, and then completely disappeared without a fight

Juan Martin Del Potro

Andy Murray:
Journalists keep talking and talking and a talking about the Big 4. In my opinion, they should stop, there are only three dominant players on the men’s circuit. In the way he plays, in his attitude, in his results, Andy Murray is far far away from Djokovic, Nadal and Federer.

Andy Murray

Jelena Jankovic: Ousted by Varvara Lepchenko in the second round. Who remembers she was once the world number one?

Jelena Jankovic

The king:

Rafael Nadal:
7th Roland Garros title, 11th Grand Slam title and 50th career title. He’s also the 4th player to win a Slam title for 8 years in a row, joining Bjorn Borg, Roger Federer and Pete Sampras.

Rafael Nadal