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Men go to form, women don't at French Open

Paris, June 5: Heading into the quarterfinals of the French Open, the men's draw includes all the usual suspects - Djokovic, Nadal, Federer - while the names on the women's bracket look as if they've
India TV News Desk June 05, 2012 14:11 IST
India TV News Desk
Paris, June 5: Heading into the quarterfinals of the French Open, the men's draw includes all the usual suspects - Djokovic, Nadal, Federer - while the names on the women's bracket look as if they've been picked out of a hat.

One of the few familiar faces over there belongs to Maria Sharapova, but even the No. 2 seed struggled to look like she belonged on a wind-whipped Monday at Roland Garros.

She struggled to a 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-2 victory over 44th-ranked Klara Zakopalova, a match in which she lost her serve nine times, bickered on and off with the chair umpire, hurt her wrist ever so slightly and lost her footing and fell backward onto the moist red clay.

"A combination of everything," she said, explaining her struggles during the 3 hour-11 minute match.

She said her right wrist, slightly jammed when she tried to get away from a Zakopalova serve into her body, was no problem. And despite all the trouble, when the match was over, her path to a title and the last piece of the career Grand Slam couldn't have looked much clearer. Her next match is against 23rd-seeded Kaia Kanepi, who beat Arantxa Rus 6-1, 4-6, 6-0.

"I have no control of who wins and loses except on my matches," Sharapova said. "Those are just things I can see and hear about and those are just results."

There are, of course, still players left who know how to win on the biggest stages: U.S. Open champion Sam Stosur and Wimbledon titlist Petra Kvitova among them. Not in the mix, however, are any former French Open champions. The last one standing, defending champion Li Na, fell 3-6, 6-2, 6-0 to a qualifier, 142nd-ranked Yaroslava Shvedova, whose biggest wins are the doubles titles she captured with Vania King at Wimbledon and Flushing Meadows in 2010.

"Even if it's doubles, it's still Wimbledon. It's the history of the tennis," Shvedova said. "It's gives you experience, and it gives me some matches in the top stadiums and (with) the full crowd."

Shvedova will face Kvitova on Wednesday, while the Tuesday quarterfinals pit 15th-seeded Dominika Cibulkova against Stosur and 21st-seeded Sara Errani against 10th-seeded Angelique Kerber.

The seven quarterfinalists other than Sharapova have combined for 22 career titles — four fewer than she's won on her own.

But is she beatable?

"If I play well, of course. Why not?" Kanepi said. "But I have to play really well."

The story couldn't be more different on the men's side. This is only the third time in the Open era that the top six seeds have made it to the quarterfinals in a Grand Slam tournament.

On Tuesday, No. 3 Roger Federer will play No. 9 Juan Martin del Potro and No. 1 Novak Djokovic meets No. 5 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

Federer-del Potro is a rematch of del Potro's win in the 2009 U.S. Open final, the only Grand Slam tournament since the 2005 Australian Open not won by Federer, Nadal or Djokovic.

"Play an unbelievable match. Try to take my opportunities. Serve 100 percent. Trying to play winners with my forehand, with my backhand, and (force) him to raise his game," del Potro explained, ticking off the laundry list of what it would take to beat Federer.

In Tuesday's matches, No. 4 Andy Murray advanced in a prickly four-setter against No. 17 Richard Gasquet — the crowd booing and harassing the Scot as he methodically took apart Gasquet, the Frenchman and fan favorite.

"I wouldn't say it got too much," Murray said. "I mean, yeah, it's almost like playing a sort of a football match. And I like football. I enjoyed myself on the court today."

If that felt like football, Nadal's match against No. 13 Juan Monaco looked more like a bullfight — an ugly display with the eventual winner never much in doubt. Nadal fell behind 2-1 in the first set, then rolled off the next 17 games and was off the court in 1 hour, 46 minutes.

"I felt very, very sorry for him," Nadal said.

Through four matches, he has lost only 19 games, which is the fewest to this point at Roland Garros since 1982, when Guillermo Vilas dropped only 16.

"So far, so good," Nadal said. "But we'll see. Things could change."