French Open: Halep progresses, Radwanska knocked out

The Frenchwoman pulled a fast one on the Polish ninth seed with a display that delighted the home crowd, and signalled a palpable belief in her ability to go much further in the tournament.

France's Alize Cornet celebrates winning her third round match against Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska at the French Open.   -  REUTERS

Using an armoury of delicate drop shots, Alize Cornet rode a tide of French support into the last-16 of Roland Garros on Saturday with a 6-2, 6-1 win over Agnieszka Radwanska.

Title contender Simona Halep pulled through against the young Daria Kasatkina with a 6-0 7-5 win.

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Cornet flummoxed Radwanska with a display that delighted the home crowd, and signalled a palpable belief in her ability to go much further here. “There are no words,” Cornet told the crowd. “It is fantastic to be able to play so well on centre court. There was no better scenario."

From the start, Cornet's forehand drop shot was her prime weapon, and she gained the upper hand in early exchanges, as French fans trickled into the Philippe Chatrier showcourt earlier than they otherwise might.

Against a backdrop of roars from the crowd, a fist-pumping Cornet sealed the opening set at the first time of asking when Radwanska fired a forehand wide.

Radwanska had come from a set down to win her last match, and is no quitter. She chased down a series of smashes from Cornet until the Frenchwoman fired one wide and long then used a drop shot of her own to break at the start of the second set.

But where in the past Cornet has seemed brittle, here the 27-year-old showed real resilience, breaking back and then keeping the pressure up.

Coming into this match, World No. 43 Cornet had won just one of the pair's eight matches, but she never looked like being denied. As yet another drop shot eluded her, Radwanska gave the impression she felt with this was a Polish version of 'one of those days'.

Cornet floated a forehand drop shot, this one brushing the net, to break for 5-1, and fittingly closed it out with a drop-shot pass combination.

HALEP MOVES TO FOURTH ROUND

Halep - a beaten finalist in Paris in 2014 - is being tipped as a title favourite after a stellar run-up on clay to this year's tournament.

She romped through the first set of Saturday's third round match in 30 minutes, with an ankle injury she sustained in mid-May giving her no more than a single twinge.

Then, Kasatkina, the 26th-seeded Russian, the highest-ranked teenager in the world before turning 20 in May, sparked into life.

She won the next four games and held three set points in the 10th game, dominating an opponent who had won in Madrid - one of the two main warm-up tournament for Paris - and finished runner-up in the other in Rome.

But Halep edged through 6-0 7-5, closing out the match with a backhand that stuck the net chord and that Kasatkina failed to return.

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