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Venus Williams seeks 1st QF in decade

Five of the first 10 times Venus Williams entered the French Open, she made it to at least the quarterfinals, including a run to the final in 2002.

Her most recent trip to Roland Garros of that length? That came all the way back in 2006.

Williams can return to the round of eight at the clay-court Grand Slam tournament for the first time in a decade if she can win her fourth-round match Monday against No. 8 Timea Bacsinszky of Switzerland.

“I love Paris, so it’s a good excuse to stay a little bit longer, right?” Williams joked. “I want to continue to play well. Each player is going to get better each round, naturally, so I can’t take anything for granted.”

She first competed at the French Open as a teen in 1997. Nearly 20 years later, the American is the oldest woman in the field, a few weeks shy of her 36th birthday.

Williams owns seven major singles titles — five at Wimbledon, two at the U.S. Open — but has not been much of a factor at Roland Garros in recent years. She didn’t participate in the 2011 tournament, then lost in the first or second round every year from 2012-15.

Still, this will be her 44th fourth-round match at a major (she is 35-8 so far). It will be only the third for Bacsinszky, who is 26.

Williams has won both previous matches they’ve played against each other in straight sets, although it’s been a while: One came at the 2014 U.S. Open, the other at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

A year ago in Paris, Bacsinszky reached her lone major semifinal before losing to Williams’ young sister Serena.

“She’s confident here, clearly. You know, I don’t even know the last time I played her. It’s been ages. I’m sure she’s a better player now than then,” said Venus Williams, who is seeded No. 9. “And hopefully I’m better, too.”

Here’s a look at what else is happening at the French Open on Monday:

AMERICAN WOMEN: There are three U.S. women on the schedule — the Williams sisters and No. 15 Madison Keys. If at least one of them wins, she would join 108th-ranked Shelby Rogers to give the country multiple French Open quarterfinalists for the first time since 2004. Serena Williams, the defending champion, meets 18th-seeded Elina Svitolina; Keys faces 58th-ranked Kiki Bertens. Williams is 3-0 against Svitolina, but there is a twist this time: One of the Ukrainian’s coaches is Justine Henin, the seven-time Grand Slam title winner who had a sometimes-testy rivalry with Williams as a player.

MEN’S FOURTH ROUND: No. 1 Novak Djokovic can get to his 10th French Open quarterfinal by beating No. 14 Roberto Bautista Agut; only Roger Federer, with 11, has more in the Open era. Neither Djokovic nor Bautista Agut has dropped a set in the tournament, but Djokovic owns a 4-0 head-to-head record. The other men’s matchups: No. 7 Tomas Berdych vs. No. 11 David Ferrer, No. 12 David Goffin vs. Ernests Gulbis, and No. 13 Dominic Thiem vs. Marcel Granollers. To make it this far, Granollers has only needed to win five complete sets, because second-round opponent Nicolas Mahut retired with an injury, and the man he was supposed to play in the third round, nine-time champion Rafael Nadal, withdrew before the match with a left wrist problem.

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