French Open Day 7: Sloane Stephens out after battle with world No. 2 Sabalenka, doubles team DQ'd for hitting ball girl

Before unseeded American Sloane Stephens took the court to face No. 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka, the French Open marketed the matchup as David going against Goliath. But Sabalenka and Stephens are both Grand Slam champions, and it showed on Sunday.

The Belarusian star secured advanced to her first Roland-Garros quarterfinal in a hard fought 7-6(5), 6-4 win. Stephens' experience in the 2018 final showed when she came back from 0-5 in the first set, pushing it to a tiebreak. She also stormed back from 4-2 to 4-4 in the second before Sabalenka broke to go 5-4 up and served out for the match.

Sabalenka, now leading the tour with 33 match wins, will play Ukraine's Elina Svitolina in the quarterfinals.

Doubles team disqualified

No. 16 seed doubles team Miyu Kato of Japan and Aldila Sutjiadi of Indonesia were disqualified from Roland-Garros on Sunday when Kato sent a hit flying toward a ball girl during their third-round match.

Kato and Sutjiadi lost the opening set to Marie Bouzkova and Sara Sorribes Tormo, but they were up 3-1 in the second when Kato's unintentional hit left the ball girl in tears.

Umpire Alexandre Juge initially gave Kato a warning, but the opponents on the other end of the court asked for the pair to be disqualified.

Novak Djokovic breaks tie with Rafael Nadal 

On Roland-Garros' opening day, Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic told reporters that the odd year without Rafael Nadal represented a new title opportunity. A week later, Djokovic secured his place in the French Open quarterfinals in record fashion.

With a 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 win over Peruvian Juan Pablo Varillas on Sunday, he has reached the quarterfinals for the 14th consecutive year, the longest streak by a man in the event's history. Roger Federer made the second-most uninterrupted appearances, advancing to the French Open quarterfinals for nine years straight before he retired.

While Djokovic added he doesn't miss Nadal because of his track record against him, he now holds the record for most solo French Open quarterfinals appearances by a man with 17. He and Nadal were previously tied.

“Well, I’m proud of it, but my attention is already on the next match,” Djokovic said after the victory on Sunday. The 22-time Grand Slam champion will play Russian No. 11 seed Karen Khachanov next.

Djokovic likely has a different idea in his sights. He and Nadal currently both have 22 Grand Slam singles championships. Djokovic has two French Open titles from 2016 and 2021. With a win this year, he would become the first man to have at least three major tournament trophies.

Notable upsets 

Unseeded Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova def. No. 28 Elise Mertens 3-6, 7-6 (3), 6-3.

Pavlyuchenkova missed last year's tournament due to a knee injury and has now defeated three consecutive seeded opponents.

Ukraine's Elina Svitolina def. No. 9 Daria Kasatkina 6-4, 7-6 (5).

Other results

No. 1 seed Carlos Alcaraz of Spain, who is expected to be Djokovic's largest competition for the La Coupe des Mousquetaires, def. Italy's Lorenzo Musetti 6-3, 6-2, 6-2.

Greece's No. 5 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas def. Austrian qualifier Sebastian Ofner 7-5, 6-3, 6-0.

Karolina Muchova def. Elina Avanesyan 6-4, 6-4.

This story will be updated.

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