Sharapova, Mauresmo make exits at Paris
Both losses make the road to a French Open title a bit easier for Venus Williams, the last remaining American.Updated: Jun 05, 2006 12:56 IST
Maria Sharapova's collapse ranked as a shocker. Amelie Mauresmo's meltdown seemed all too familiar. Both losses make the road to a French Open title a bit easier for Venus Williams, the last remaining American.
"Lone flag waving gently in the wind," Williams said. Sharapova squandered a 5-1 lead in the final set, lost 18 of the final 21 points and was beaten by Dinara Safina 7-5, 2-6, 7-5 in the fourth round Sunday.
Frenchwoman Mauresmo, a perennial flop on her home court, fizzled again by losing to 17-year-old Nicole Vaidisova, 6-7 (5), 6-1, 6-2. Vaidisova, seeded 16th, next faces the No. 11-seeded Williams, who advanced to the quarterfinals when she won the final four games to beat No. 7 Patty Schnyder 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.
Williams committed 19 unforced errors in the first set, and then totaled 16 in the last two. The reigning Wimbledon champion is making her 10th tries at a French Open title.
The last American in the men's draw, No. 8 James Blake, lost to No. 25 Gael Monfils 6-2, 6-7 (2), 7-6 (1), 5-7, 6-4. The third-round match had been suspended after two sets Saturday because of darkness.
The top-ranked Mauresmo won her first major title at the Australian Open in January, but she has yet to make the semifinals at Roland Garros in 12 appearances.
"I wasn't able to keep up my end of the bargain," Mauresmo said.
Vaidisova sank to her knees after smacking the last of her 38 winners on match point. She and Safina earned their first berth in a Grand Slam quarterfinal.
Safina also earned a congratulatory message from her brother, Marat Safin, a winner of two major titles.
"He said, 'Great fight, good comeback,"' she said. "It's nice."
Top-ranked Roger Federer, seeking his fourth consecutive major title, advanced to the quarterfinals by beating No. 20 Tomas Berdych 6-3, 6-2, 6-3. Croatians Ivan Ljubicic and Mario Ancic also won, as did two-time champion Justine Henin-Hardenne, two-time runner-up Kim Clijsters and former U.S. Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova on the women's side.
Henin-Hardenne, seeded fifth, beat 2004 champion Anastasia Myskina 6-1, 6-4. The Belgian's opponent Tuesday will be No. 13 Anna-Lena Groenefeld, who became the third first-time Grand Slam quarterfinalist on the women's side when she beat No. 32 Gisela Dulko 6-3, 6-4.
No. 10 Gaston Gaudio, the 2004 champion, was eliminated by No. 6 Nikolay Davydenko, 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.
Sharapova, seeded fourth, said rustiness following a recent injury layoff contributed to her unraveling.
"You're thinking left and right, and you don't know what you're doing," Sharapova said. "You go into a different world, and you make dumb decisions."
She failed to convert two set points in the opening set, then rallied but couldn't close out the victory. She was twice broken serving for the match, hitting errant forehands on three consecutive points to lose serve for 5-all.
The 5-foot-11 Safina controlled the rallies in the final two games, keeping her Russian compatriot on the move and on her heels.
"I took everything in my hands," said Safina, seeded 14th. "Before, she was dictating and I had always to run from corner to corner. I said, 'OK, now I'll try to make her run.' I started to be more aggressive."
The tournament was the first since April 1 for Sharapova, who withdrew from two events leading to Roland Garros because of a right ankle injury.
"I haven't played a lot of matches in the past weeks and don't feel like I'm match-tough enough," she said. "Of course I'm disappointed, but I didn't think I would be playing my best tennis here."
Safina will next play another Russian, the No. 8-seeded Kuznetsova, who rallied past No. 9 Francesca Schiavone 1-6, 6-4, 6-4.
Blake blew an easy volley to lose serve in the next-to-last game against Frenchman Monfils, who then closed out the victory to the delight of a partisan crowd on Court 1. Annoyed by the fans during the match, Blake complained to the chair umpire.
"A couple of times the fans said things during a point or during my service motion," Blake said. "I didn't feel like he did anything about it. He didn't feel like I had a valid point. We disagreed a bit."
When a line call was disputed, Blake invited a spectator out of the stands to check the mark. The fan did, and the call by the umpire went in Blake's favor.
"That was fabulous," Monfils said. "It was quite funny." Monfils, the 2004 Roland Garros junior champion, has won five-setters in each of the first three rounds.
The No. 4-seeded Ljubicic needed only two games to close a victory over Juan Monaco, 4-6, 5-7, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2. Their match was suspended Saturday with Ljubicic leading 4-2 in the final set. The Croat overcame a two-set deficit for the third time in his career and improved to 6-12 in five-set matches.
Federer will next play the No. 12-seeded Ancic, who reached the Roland Garros quarterfinals for the first time by beating No. 7 Tommy Robredo 6-4, 4-6, 2-6, 6-4, 7-5. Ancic vomited in the fifth set and interrupted a game to receive treatment from a trainer for cramps.
"What a match he played," Federer said. "A lot of drama."
First Published: Jun 05, 2006 12:56 IST