PARIS (AP) — Venus Williams was unable to join her sister in the French Open quarterfinals, failing in a bid to get back to that stage at the clay-court Grand Slam tournament for the first time in a decade.
Finally back on court after her fourth-round match was postponed twice because of rain, the No. 9-seeded Williams lost to No. 8 Timea Bacsinszky of Switzerland 6-2, 6-4 on Wednesday.
Williams, a seven-time major champion, started well enough, taking a 2-0 lead before dropping eight games in a row. She managed to produce only six winners in all, while committing 24 unforced errors.
Williams was the runner-up to younger sibling Serena at Roland Garros in 2002, but her most recent trip to the quarterfinals in Paris came all the way back in 2006.
Wasting no time at all after waiting two days to play, defending champion Serena moved closer to her record-equaling 22nd Grand Slam title with a 6-1, 6-1 victory over 18th-seeded Elina Svitolina of Ukraine in only 62 minutes.
The match originally was scheduled for Monday, but showers forced cancellation of an entire day of play at Roland Garros for the first time in 16 years. Then, on Tuesday, more rain allowed for a total of only 2 hours of play around the grounds, and all fourth-round matches on the top half of the women’s draw were pushed back again.
While Wednesday was cloudy and chilly, with the temperature barely breaking 60 degrees (16 degrees Celsius), at least the drizzle stayed away, allowing for progress in the brackets.
Finally in action in Wednesday’s opening match at Court Philippe Chatrier, Serena looked very much like a 21-time Grand Slam champion facing a 21-year-old who has only reached one major quarterfinal, a year ago in Paris.
Serena had an 8-0 edge in aces, a 27-10 advantage in total winners, forced Svitolina into 22 mistakes, and saved seven of eight break points.
After losing in the U.S. Open semifinals last year, and the Australian Open final in January, Serena is trying once more to pull even with Steffi Graf’s Open-era mark of 22 major titles.
In the quarterfinals, Serena will face either No. 12 Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain or unseeded Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan.
Backsinszky, who lost to Serena in the 2015 French Open semifinals, can make it back to that stage if she beats 58th-ranked Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands next.
Bertens reached her first Grand Slam quarterfinal by beating 15th-seeded Madison Keys of the United States 7-6 (4), 6-3.
Bertens eliminated a seeded player for the third time in the tournament, after upsetting No. 3 Angelique Kerber, the Australian Open champion, in the first round, then No. 29 Daria Kasatkina in the third round.
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