French Open 2021: Federer withdraws, Serena Williams loses to Rybakina – as it happened | Sport
That’s your lot from Roland Garros on a day when we lost two great champions. Roger Federer protected his body, Serena Williams bowed out limply. Davidovich Fokina has just gone two sets up against Federico Delbonis. That game has a long way to go though. Thanks for your time today, and sharing your thoughts. We’ll be back tomorrow for more of the same. Goodnight.
Rybakina says she is “so happy” with her “amazing” win. “I was nervous but I’m just happy that I managed my thoughts and everything and I won today.” She can’t stop smiling. Why should she. She is some talent. The Russian-born Kazakhstani is 21 and going places. But will Serena Williams be back at Roland Garros. Let’s hope so.
Elena Rybakina beats Serena Williams 6-3, 7-5
Williams draws first blood in the game but Rybakina responds with an ace down the middle. She’s ice cool. In the flash of an eye it’s 40-15. She misses the first serve but the second is bang on the line. Serena sends it long and the great champion is out. What a performance from Rybakina.
Rybakina starts with a sizzling return winner then sends Serena scrambling with a crosscourt forehand. A double fault from the American, her first of the match, makes it 0-40 and Rybakina produces another crushing crosscourt return to go 6-5 up. She will serve for the match.
Evening all. Serena has been all over the place in this match but Rybakina is giving her no peace. The underdog races into a 40-0 lead with some pinpoint serving, then seals the game at the second attempt. It’s 5-5. This is very interesting. Big game.
Right, my watch is over; Rob Bleaney will coax you through the remainder. Thanks for your company and enjoy the rest of the weekend. Ta-ra.
Rybakina catches Serena, a little slow on her feet as she makes room to hit a forehand, and the ball catches her racket; I’m not sure I’ve ever seen that. But Serena has upped it these last few minutes and finds a terrific forehand for 15-all then makes it 30-15 and, though Rybakina does claw back one point with a terrific forehand of her own, Serena strong-stands and now leads 5-4 in set two.
Rybakina indulges a little hop on the spot as a winner whizzes by her to give Serena 15-30; it works, because a big serve then restores parity in the game. But a tight, tame forehand drips wide, then another is powered wide, and that’s why Serena is Serena. She breaks back immediately and, for the first time, Rybakina looked nervous. Thing is, Serena still isn’t playing well…
Gosh, Serena digs out a backhand that flies wide and gives Rybakina 0-40, driving a forehand at her when she comes to the net next point. It doesn’t make any difference though, a forehand winner giving the 21-year-old the break! She’s outplaying Serena here, and if she can muster two holds she’s through! Williams 3-6 3-4 Rybakina
A beautifully-timed forehand return, then a sensational backhand angle, gives Serena a sniff and hauls her from 30-0 to 30-all. But Rybakina is so solid and quickly polishes off the game for 3-3 while, on Lenglen, Davidovich Fokina has a double break in set two having won set one.
Watching this, it’s very hard to see Serena beating the best – she’s just not moving or hitting well enough. Obviously she’s made a career out of amazing us and as I type that she inches ahead in the set with an ace – but still. Williams 3-6 2-1 Rybakina
Serena then holds, her first in three, and gets to 15-30 on the Rybakina serve; an ace follows, then a really commanding point in which Serena is again sent scurrying along the baseline and we’re quickly at 2-2. Meanwhile, Davidovich Fokina has broken Delbonnis to lead 6-4 2-1.
Yeah, we got ourselves a ball-game. Serena responds with a break of her own, sealed with a huge backhand. Williams 3-6 1-1 Rybakina
Serena mislaid her length in that set, and will know now that if she doesn’t improve, she’ll lose. Rybakina, meanwhile, will know that the win of her career – that will establish her career – is there for her, and she opens the second set by winning the first three points on Serena’s serve! And though Serena finds a ludicrous forehand for 15-40, that’s all she can manage! She’s in a world of trouble now!
Back on Lenglen, Davidovich Fokina is busy gesticulating at the crowd having taken the first set against Delbonnis, 6-4.
Now we’ll see. Rybakina opens with a double but responds with a beauty out wide; Serena thinks it’s out so the umpire comes over to check and declares the ball good, then when another falls short, Rybakina cleanses a backhand winner. She’s got Serena moving and after making her chase along the baseline clouts a winner that gives her two set points; the first is saved via booming forehand, the second via double. Rybakina had a proper go with her second serve and you’ve got to admire that – she knew Serena would attack it – but it was fractionally wide. No matter, on deuce Rybakina changes it up with a body serve that allows a winner down the line … but then goes long. She’s wins the next point though, and a poor shot gives Serena a chance on the backhand … but she sends it wide! Rybakina takes the first set 6-3!
Rybakina’s mentality has been first-class so far and she gets herself a point to break back the break-back – Serena is dropping balls to short, and when she offers a forehand it’s sent straight back past her! Rybakina will now serve for the set at 5-3!
On Lenglen, Davidovich Fokina has broken Delbonnis back; they’re at 3-3.
A double hands Serena break-back point but Rybakina doesn’t give a rabbit one, hammering out to the backhand before punishing into the forehand space, as the greatest slides into a heap. This is a match and Serena is growing into it, earning another opportunity … quickly snuffed out via ace … but Rybakina can’t keep saving herself and the next advantage is rammed home for 4-3.
Great stuff, from Rybakina, consolidating to 15 for 4-1; this first set is running away from sSerena, and fast. Meanwhile, Delbonnis has broken Davidovich Fokina for 3-1.
Rybakina has got right into this, completely undaunted, raising her first break point at 2-1 … and taking it when Serena goes long!
Two more love holds for Serena and Rybakina, while Davidovich Fokina and Delbonnis are also on serve. Delbonnis, for those unfamiliar with his oeuvre, has a serve not unlike Jo Durie – he raises his racket before he tosses the ball, though unlike her his goes straight up, not behind the head.
“Federer is about two weeks older than me,” says the stripling Matt Dony, “so I’ve always been heartened by his longevity. Almost feels like I still have time to get the first Grand Slam under the belt. But seeing him struggle with, and indeed succumb to, injuries over the last few years is depressing. Maybe I really have left sporting supremacy too late. (Still got Mickelson, though…).”
Yes, I feel you. Being older than all the players is a miserable situation, as is the long-awaited realisation that you can legitimately call most of them “son”.
Serena has a load of strapping on her right thigh and hasn’t got her feet going yet, a drop into the net handing Rybakina a love hold to start. Rybakina was actually a gymnast until they discovered she was going to grow beyond six feet, at which point her dad suggested she try tennis and here we are.
Elsewhere, England’s cricket men are trying not to win the first Test against New Zealand.
“A difficult but wise decision by Federer,” tweets @Mysteron_Voice. “It would have looked a lot different if he had pulled out before a potential match against Djokovic, and there’s no point in letting Nole possibly wipe the floor with you if you are nowhere near 100%…”
I was looking forward to his match against Berrettini, but no one can accuse Federer of not being committed to the game. If he says he can’t, he can’t.
Apparently Medvedev said that the new balls suit his style, and he’s also hitting the ball harder – especially on the backhand. Tsitsipas will be a very different challenge for him, but his serve makes him difficult to beat before we’ve even started with the rest of him.
We’re 20 minutes away from Serena v Rybakina on Chatrier; next on Lenglen, it’s Davidovich Fokina v Delbonnis.
Medvedev, who’d never won a match at Roland Garros, has now won four. He meets Tsitsipas  next, and the way he’s playing, that could be more of a contest than we might think.
Medvedev chases out wide to retrieve and guides a slice back across the next … but Garin is waiting to put it away … into the bottom of the net! Oh dear. He then nets again, but fights back well for 30-all … before Medvedev nails a forehand down the line … and Garin does likewise with a backhand. That takes us to a succession of deuces, during which we even see Medvedev at the net – he can’t return Garin’s pass – and after which we see Medevev nail two monstrous forehand winners down the line and on the run when sent to chase wide ones. Wow! They give him the break, and after a sit-down he’ll serve for the match.
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