PARIS (AP) — Sloane Stephens faces Aryna Sabalenka in the fourth round during the first night session of the 2023 French Open to showcase a women’s match.
Only took a week for that to happen.
The matchup between players with a Grand Slam title apiece will be under the lights Sunday in Court Philippe Chatrier.
A year ago at Roland Garros, when night sessions were introduced, all but one of the 10 matches in that slot involved men.
“If the tournament is not going to change it, then there’s nothing we can do,” Stephens said when asked about it this week in Paris.
Stephens, an unseeded American, collected her major trophy at the 2017 U.S. Open; she also was the runner-up at the 2018 French Open.
Sabalenka, a Belarusian who is seeded No. 2, won the Australian Open this January.
After her third-round match Friday, Sabalenka was allowed to avoid the traditional postmatch news conference open to all accredited journalists and instead speak with what was described as a “pool” of selected questioners.
After each of her previous two wins, she was asked about her stance on the war in Ukraine, which began in February 2022, when Russia invaded that country with help from Belarus. Sabalenka said she “did not feel safe” at her news conference Wednesday and wanted to protect her “mental health and well-being” on Friday.
WHAT HAPPENED ON COURT SATURDAY?
No. 6 Coco Gauff, who is 19, beat qualifier Mirra Andreeva, who is 16, by a 6-7 (5), 6-1, 6-1 score to reach the fourth round. That kept Gauff on course for a possible quarterfinal against No. 1 Iga Swiatek, which would be a rematch of last year’s final at the French Open, won by Swiatek.
WHO PLAYS SUNDAY?
No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz and No. 3 Novak Djokovic can move closer to a much-anticipated semifinal meeting with fourth-round victories. Alcaraz plays No. 17 Lorenzo Musetti, who won their lone previous head-to-head matchup, while Djokovic takes on unseeded Juan Pablo Varillas. The other men’s matches are No. 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas vs. Sebastian Ofner, and No. 11 Karen Khachanov vs. Lorenzo Sonego. In addition to Sabalenka vs. Stephens, the women’s fourth-rounders are No. 9 Daria Kasatkina vs. Elina Svitolina, Karolina Muchova vs. Elina Avanesyan, and No. 28 Elise Mertens vs. 2021 runner-up Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
WHEN ARE SUNDAY’S MATCHES?
Play begins at 11 a.m. local time in Paris, which is 5 a.m. EDT. The first match in the main stadium, Court Philippe Chatrier, is Mertens-Pavlyuchenkova. That will be followed by Djokovic-Varillas, then Alcaraz-Musetti. Stephens-Sabalenka at night is scheduled to start at 8:15 p.m. local time or 2:15 p.m. EDT.
GET CAUGHT UP
What you need to know about the year’s second Grand Slam tennis tournament:
– Rafael Nadal is not here
– Can AI help prevent cyberbullying of tennis players?
– French players bid a quick adieu to French Open
– Novak Djokovic can break a tie with Nadal by winning Slam No. 23
– Iga Swiatek, Aryna Sabalenka, Elena Rybakina split past four major titles
– Facts and figures about the French Open, including a look back at 2022
TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE
Try your hand at the AP’s latest tennis quiz here.
Looking ahead, Coco Gauff is a -720 moneyline pick against Anna Karolina Schmiedlova, who is listed at plus-520 for their fourth-round match on Monday, according to FanDuel Sportsbook. For Alcaraz-Musetti on Sunday, there’s this: The over-under on tiebreaker sets is 1.5 — with the over at plus-740 and the under at minus-2000. Just as she has been since before the tournament began, Swiatek is an overwhelming pick for the women’s title at minus-190. Alcaraz remains the favorite to win the men’s championship at plus-150, followed by Djokovic at plus-165.
THE NUMBER TO KNOW
6-0, 6-0 — The score of Iga Swiatek’s third-round victory over Wang Xinyu, the first time since 2017 that someone won a French Open match by that score. Caroline Wozniacki defeated Francoise Abanda 6-0, 6-0 six years ago in Paris.
THE QUOTE TO KNOW
“I’m like, ‘Who keeps track of this stuff?’” — Coco Gauff, on some of the stats she’s seen about being the youngest player to do something in tennis.
HOW TO WATCH
-In the U.S.: Tennis Channel, NBC, Peacock.
-In France: France TV, Amazon Prime.
-Other countries listed here.
UPCOMING SINGLES SCHEDULE
-Sunday-Monday: Fourth Round (Women and Men)
-June 6-7: Quarterfinals (Women and Men)
-June 8: Women’s Semifinals
-June 9: Men’s Semifinals
-June 10: Women’s Final
-June 11: Men’s Final
AP tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports