Alize Cornet hit out at a “handful of idiots” as she was booed after a thigh injury forced her to retire in her French Open third round clash against China’s Zheng Qinwen.
Cornet, playing at her 61st consecutive Grand Slam, called it quits while trailing her 19-year-old opponent 6-0, 3-0 on Court Philippe Chatrier.
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“What is amazing that people had the cheek to boo me on the court when I had to abandon the match. And it was because I was in pain, ”said Cornet, whose left thigh was heavily strapped.
“But sometimes the French audience surprises me and not always in a good way.”
Cornet had spoken about how the crowd “carried” her in a second-round win over 2017 Roland Garros champion Jelena Ostapenko earlier in the tournament.
The Latvian felt the full impact of 15,000 fans, covering her ears with her hands to block out the cacophony.
Two days later and it was Cornet this time who was on the receiving end.
“It hurts more than my injury itself,” she said. “It’s unfair and when things are unfair it hurts.
“But once again most of the people are no doubt sad for me and understand what’s going on, but this handful of idiots really, really, really makes you feel bad.”
Cornet revealed she had injured herself late in the third set against Ostapenko on Friday.
“We did a scan that showed a tear, a major tear, a pretty good one, so I knew it would be hard for me to play today. But I decided to go on court anyway and try, ”she said.
“I always try my luck right to the end, but maybe I shouldn’t have played and not taken the risk of making things worse.”
Having stunned 2018 champion Simona Halep in the second round, Zheng becomes only the fourth Chinese woman to make the fourth round in Paris where compatriot Li Na captured her landmark Slam title in 2011.
“I always knew I had the level to do well, now I just want to keep going,” said the 19-year-old Zheng, ranked at 74.
Zheng will now face world number one Iga Swiatek, who is the only top 10 female seed left standing in Paris, while Casper Ruud and Holger Rune gave Roland Garros a rare Nordic twist with landmark performances.
Swiatek, the 2020 champion, dropped serve three times against 95th-ranked Danka Kovinic of Montenegro before sealing a 6-3, 7-5 third round victory, her 31st successive win.
“I wanted to play really aggressively but sometimes I felt I was hitting with too much power and it was hard to control,” said the 20-year-old Pole.
Swiatek’s winning streak is the best since Serena Williams’s 34 successive victories in 2013.
Spain’s Paula Badosa, who made the quarter-finals in 2021, retired due to a calf injury when she was trailing Russia’s Veronika Kudermetova 6-3, 2-1.
Aryna Sabalenka, the seventh seed, slipped to a 4-6, 6-1, 6-0 defeat against Italy’s Camila Giorgi.
The exits of Badosa and Sabalenka meant that for the first time in the Open era only one top 10 seed has survived to the fourth round.
In stark contrast, nine of the top 10 male seeds have made the second week. Eighth-seeded Ruud became the first Norwegian man to reach the last 16 with a 6-2, 6-7 (3/7), 1-6, 6-4, 6-3 win over Italy’s Lorenzo Sonego.
Ruud hit 39 winners and goes on to face Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz, a Wimbledon semi-finalist last year who is also in the last 16 in Paris for the first time.
Meanwhile, Rune became the first Danish man in the Roland Garros fourth round since 1959 when he knocked out France’s last man, Hugo Gaston.
Rune, 19, and ranked at 40, breezed to a 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 win and next faces 2021 runner-up Stefanos Tsitsipas. The last Danish man to make a Slam fourth round was Kenneth Carlsen at the 1993 Australian Open.
Fourth seed Tsitsipas needed just 92 minutes to clinch a 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 win over 95th-ranked Mikael Ymer.
The Greek star had to come back from two sets down to beat Lorenzo Musetti and then needed four hours and four sets to see off 134th-ranked qualifier Zdenek Kolar in his first two outings.
However, the 23-year-old was never troubled on Sunday, breaking his Swedish opponent six times.
“It was different from my first two matches. The conditions were warmer and drier, which suited me better, ”Tsitsipas said after a season-leading 34th win.
World number two Daniil Medvedev eased through by defeating Serbian 28th seed Miomir Kecmanovic 6-2, 6-4, 6-2.
Medvedev has not dropped a set in three rounds and will next play former US Open champion Marin Cilic, who ended 37-year-old Gilles Simon’s 17-year-old Roland Garros career with a 6-0, 6-3, 6-2 win.
Medvedev fell in the opening round on his first four trips to Paris before reaching the quarter-finals a year ago.
“It was really hard, everyone was asking how I could be number two in the world without getting past the first round,” said the US Open champion, who has never won a clay title.
Mackenzie McDonald, the 60th-ranked American, lost to Italian 11th seed Jannik Sinner after managing to squander 11 set points in the second set.
Sinner, a quarter-finalist in 2020, triumphed 6-3, 7-6 (8/6), 6-3 and will face seventh-seeded Andrey Rublev for a last-eight spot.
Rublev, also a quarter-finalist two years ago, defeated Chile’s Cristian Garin 6-4, 3-6, 6-2, 7-6 (13/11).