Rafael Nadal marches on in Paris as Serena Williams bows out

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Rafael Nadal continued marching ominously towards an 11th French Open crown but Serena Williams was forced to end her comeback early.

While Nadal was disposing of battling German youngster Maximilian Marterer, Williams had called a press conference to announce she had to withdraw from her eagerly anticipated match against Maria Sharapova.

At 36, and having given birth to her daughter in September with complications afterwards, Williams’ body had, perhaps unsurprisingly, failed her.

Serena Williams File Photo
It was a disappointing day for Serena Williams (Steve Paston/PA)

“Right now I can’t actually serve so it’s actually hard to play when I can’t physically serve,” she explained.

“I’m beyond disappointed. I gave up so much from time with my daughter and time with my family all for this moment. So it’s really difficult to be in this situation.”

Williams will have an MRI scan on Tuesday, when it will become clearer whether the problem will affect her preparations for Wimbledon.

The 23-time grand slam winner was not seeded in Paris due to her lowly ranking but Wimbledon chiefs can make an exception and will rule on her status when the seeding committee meets on June 26.

Nadal has no such issues, the Spanish world number one coming through in three sets against Marterer to set up a last-eight meeting with Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman.

On Tuesday Novak Djokovic will bid to reach the semi-finals when he takes on Italian Marco Cecchinato.

Cecchinato has already knocked out Pablo Carreno Busta, the 10th seed, and eighth seed David Goffin.

“I have known of him for many years,” said Djokovic. “I practised with him many times in Monte Carlo. I know now his game.

“He’s playing the tennis of his life. And even though he’s not a seeded player, he’s still in a quarter-final.

“He deserves respect and he’s got nothing to lose in our next match. So I’ll approach it very seriously.”

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