French Open: Caroline Garcia rides rowdy crowd to 4th round as she beats Elise Mertens

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France’s Caroline Garcia celebrates wining her third round match of the French Open against Belgium’s Elise Mertens in Paris on Friday.

There were shouts of “Bravo!” and “Merci!” filling the arena, fans in facemasks jumping up and down and an atmosphere sufficiently rowdy to forget how the coronavirus has taken huge bites out of crowd sizes at this year’s French Open when Caroline Garcia beat 16th-seeded Elise Mertens 1-6, 6-4, 7-5.

Garcia rode the partisan home support to advance to the fourth round and then told the crowd “there are not many of you but you make as much noise as when it’s full. I don’t understand.”

The match was played under the new roof on Court Philippe Chatrier. The revamped arena was built to hold 15,000 spectators but has been largely empty and eerily silent this year because of the limit of 1,000 spectators at the clay-court Grand Slam tournament.

Play resumed on outside courts after a rain-break as the 45th-ranked Garcia advanced to a fourth-round match-up against third-seeded Elina Svitolina.

Sebastian Korda also advanced. The son of 1998 Australian Open champion Petr Korda beat Pedro Martinez 6-4, 6-3, 6-1 in a rain-interrupted match.

Both men reached the main draw via the qualifying tournament. Korda is the first qualifier to reach the men’s fourth round since Alejandro Falla in 2011.

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