Kristina Mladenovic, the 13th seed and the highest-ranked Frenchwoman, rode a sonic wave of crowd support through her 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 win over the fourth-seeded Muguruza. Mladenovic’s nickname, Kiki, rang out from the stands between points, especially as she began to cement her lead in the third set.
Mladenovic shouted “forza,” Italian for power, but she may as well have yelled “fortissimo” to lead the fans’ chorus at Court Suzanne Lenglen. Her supporters reacted with maximum volume to nearly any point she won — whether on a Mladenovic winner or an unforced error by Muguruza.
Muguruza, in her first defense of a major title, was visibly agitated by the hostile reception, and she wagged a disapproving finger at the crowd as she walked off the court.
“The French crowd was pathetic today,” said Sam Sumyk, Muguruza’s coach, who happens to be French. “No class.”
Muguruza, who defeated Serena Williams in last year’s final, arrived red-eyed to her news conference and said the crowd “sometimes should be a little more respectful,” citing the many times the chair umpire, Mariana Alves, had to calm them down.
“I’m not here to create enemies,” Muguruza said. “I mean, I love playing here. It’s not a good feeling.”
When a reporter began to ask about Mladenovic’s Italian exhortations, Muguruza began to cry anew. The moderator, Eleanor Preston, asked Muguruza, 23, if she wanted to “pop outside for a minute,” and she accepted the offer.
“Bear with us, please, for a few moments,” Preston said.
When Muguruza returned, the reporter who had asked the question apologized and offered to retract it, but Muguruza said she was ready this time.
“No, go for it,” she said. “We’re hearing the good and the bad, so go for it.”
When he asked again, Muguruza said she was not bothered by her opponent’s shouts, and mockingly alluded to the fact that Mladenovic is multilingual.
“I think she speaks, like, 25 languages — I heard, so,” she said with a shrug.
Mladenovic, 24, appeared surprised when told of the criticism by Muguruza and Sumyk, and she disagreed that the crowd’s behavior was in any way “bad at all.” She noted that in April she had played against Germans in Stuttgart, where the crowd had also supported the local players, as she said should be expected.
“I consider that when there is a fine event with a great audience, it’s a good thing,” Mladenovic said, adding that it was a “huge pleasure and privilege to have the audience behind you.”
Venus Williams, who will turn 37 this month, was the most established champion to fall, with her collection of seven major titles. The 10th-seeded Williams lost, 5-7, 6-2, 6-1, to Timea Bacsinszky, the 30th seed and the same player who defeated her in the fourth round last year.
Bacsinszky, who lives in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, enjoyed crowd support throughout the match on Court Philippe Chatrier — albeit not as raucous as it was for Mladenovic, her quarterfinal opponent.
“It’s an honor to have so many people cheering for me like I had today,” Bacsinszky said. “So I don’t know why or how this bond was made, but it felt really special today. And I know it’s not going to be the same for my next match.”
Williams, who has never won a French Open in her 20 appearances, fought back from 5-1 down to rattle off six straight games and win the first set, but it was not enough.
“She just played well,” Williams said of Bacsinszky. “She just came out with great tennis a lot of the time. The risk was rewarded for her.”
Williams added, “I feel I played well today, but I did not quite figure out the solution in time.”
The eighth-seeded Kuznetsova, who won the 2009 French Open and the 2004 United States Open, fell, 6-1, 4-6, 6-2, to Caroline Wozniacki, the No. 11 seed. The 12 women remaining in the tournament have reached a combined 11 Grand Slam semifinals, and six of those appearances belong to Wozniacki. But Wozniacki’s best result here was one quarterfinal, in 2010, with clay being her least comfortable surface.
“I stay positive,” Wozniacki said of her mind-set on clay. “I feel like I can play well on any surface, and I really believe that. I have won tournaments on the red clay, too, so it’s not like it’s foreign to me. But, yeah, it’s a surface where it’s been very much up and down throughout my career.”
In her bid for a first French Open semifinal, Wozniacki, 26, will face 47th-ranked Jelena Ostapenko, a first-time major quarterfinalist who beat the 23rd-seeded Stosur, the 2011 United States Open champion, 2-6, 6-2, 6-4. The loss will end Stosur’s 453-week run as the top-ranked Australian woman, a mantle she cedes to Daria Gavrilova.
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