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Venus Williams still going strong

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Originally published on 02/06/17 00:00

Simply by participating in the action, the 36-year-old is making an Open era record 20th appearance at Roland Garros – but the veteran is not in the City of Light to make up the numbers.

"Is it 20 already? I thought I missed a few, but apparently not," said Williams. "It's always an opportunity, for sure. You know, I want to play the kind of tennis that's consistent, aggressive and inspired. That's my goal, really, every match."

The American’s light playing schedule has undoubtedly contributed to her longevity however she will hope that the matches come thick and fast over the next 10 days.

Her next opponent, Elise Mertens, is ranked No.60 in the world and has reached the third round of a Grand Slam for the first time.

Garbine Muguruza had struggled for form leading into the defence of her title, but she has delivered two gutsy displays so far. The Spaniard is in her element on Philippe-Chatrier Court and she will hope for another positive outcome against No.27 seed, Yulia Putintseva.

Elsewhere, Ons Jabeur, the first Arab woman to reach the third round of a Grand Slam, will take on former semi-finalist, Timea Bacsinszky, and Shuai Zhang will challenge Svetlana Kuznetsova.

In the men’s draw, Rafael Nadal will expect to end the fairytale run of Nikoloz Basilashvili and Novak Djokovic will tackle the plucky Argentinian, Diego Schwartzman.

Perhaps the most intriguing contest of the day will see Grigor Dimitrov against Pablo Carreño Busta. The Bulgarian leads the head-to-head count but he lost their most recent encounter in Madrid 12 months ago.

Dimitrov has reached the last 32 in Paris for just the second time in his career, and the fundamentals of his game – the serve and forehand – have been working well so far. He has appeared reinvigorated under the stewardship of Dani Vallverdu and a win over the Spaniard would be another step in the right direction.

Carreño Busta is a fearsome competitor and he has made giant strides this year. He reached the semi-finals of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells and his work-ethic and dedication is admirable.

It promises to be a close affair between two outstanding athletes, and there should be a hatful of physically demanding exchanges for the spectators on Court 1 to enjoy.

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