Defending champion Maria Sharapova crashed out of the French Open in the fourth round on Monday, losing 7-6(7/3), 6-4 to 13th-seeded Czech Lucie Safarova and bringing an end to the Russian’s impressive string of results at Roland Garros.
Safarova – who had never progressed to the quarter-finals on the Paris clay in 10 previous attempts – hit 20 forehand winners to unsettle the former world No. 1 on Court Philippe Chatrier.
Sharapova, who had lost only one of her previous 24 matches at Roland Garros, dropped her serve in the third game but came back in the eighth when her opponent double-faulted.
She then lost her fourth consecutive tiebreak of the season.
The Russian, who has five grand slam titles to her name, went 3-0 down in the second set but fought back to 3-3 after Safarova made a mess of a routine forehand at the net with the court wide open.
The Czech regained control and ended the contest on Sharapova's serve with a forehand winner.
She next faces 21st-seeded Garbine Muguruza after the Spaniard went through to the last eight for the second year in a row by defeating Italy's Flavia Pennetta in straight sets.
'I did the best I could'
For Sharapova, it was a disappointing end to a tournament that had promised so much.
After warming up for the French Open by winning the title in Rome, she came through the first three rounds in Paris without dropping a set, despite struggling to shake off the effects of a cold.
When asked if the illness had finally caught up with her, she said: "I don't like to talk about it, and I don't think it really makes a difference."
"I'm still a competitor no matter what. You know, I'm going to do everything in order to go out and give it my best, and I think I did the best I could.
"Today it wasn't enough, because my opponent had a different gear than I did. But I was still there and I still competed, but it wasn't enough."
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)
Date created : 2015-06-01