Sharapova restores order at shock-hit French Open
PARIS—Maria Sharapova helped restore order at the French Open on Saturday after Roland Garros had been shellshocked by the loss of its top two seeds before the fourth round stage, a 40-year low point for Paris.
The seventh seeded Russian, whose best performance here remains a 2007 semi-final place, comfortably reached the last 16 with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Taiwan qualifier Chan Yung-Jan.
Sharapova had to recover from a set and 1-4 down to defeat French 17-year-old, and world 188, Caroline Garcia in three sets to reach the last 32 on Thursday.
But there were no dramas on Saturday with the former world number one and triple Grand Slam title winner strolling to her third victory in three meetings with the 129-ranked Chan.
Sharapova will next face Agnieszka Radwanska, the 12th seed, for a place in the quarter-finals, boasting a 6-1 career record over the Pole.
“It’ll be a really tough match because I think this is one of her best surfaces,” said Sharapova. “She’s a really good mover and gets a lot of balls back.”
Belarusian fourth seed Victoria Azarenka, a 2009 quarter-finalist, and China’s Li Na, the sixth seed, also eased into the last 16.
Azarenka romped to a 6-3, 6-2 win over Italian 30th seed Roberta Vinci while Li, the first Chinese player to make a Grand Slam final at the Australian Open this year, enjoyed a comfortable 6-2, 6-2 win over Romania’s Sorana Cirstea.
Saturday’s results came a day after top seed Caroline Wozniacki was knocked out in the last 32 while second seeded Kim Clijsters exited the day before in the second round.
It was the first time since 1971 that the top two seeds had failed to get beyond the third round.
“The players that they lost to, you have to give them credit,” said Azarenka. “They must have been playing damn good if they beat such tough opponents.”
The 21-year-old next faces Ekaterina Makarova of Russia for a place in the quarter-finals.
Li reached the fourth round for the second time by seeing off 21-year-old Cirstea, a 2009 quarter-finalist, and will next face dangerous Czech ninth seed Petra Kvitova who ended American interest with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Vania King.
Andrea Petkovic, the German 15th seed, also went into last 16 with a 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 win over Jarmila Gajdosova, the last Australian in the event.
“I’m really proud of myself. I was composed and fought well in the third set. I had chances to finish it in two sets, but I missed three or four times just by centimetres,” said 23-year-old Petkovic.
Petkovic, who reached ther first Grand Slam quarter-final in Australia, will face Russian 25th seed Maria Kirilenko, who put out Clijsters’ conqueror Aranxta Rus.
Meanwhile, Swiss veteran Patty Schnyder called time on a 17-year career which brought 11 titles, 59 Grand Slam appearances and a family split caused by a bizarre relationship with an orange juice-obsessed guru.
The 32-year-old made her majors bow at Roland Garros in 1996 and suitably chose her 16th successsive French Open to announce her retirement.
“It’s time to close this chapter of my career,” said a tearful Schnyder.
“I had always wanted to win a Grand Slam title but that will have to remain a dream.”
Schnyder hit the headlines as a teenager when she hooked up with Rainer Harnecker who convinced her to give up meat and drink three litres of orange juice a day.
Her parents became so concerned for the welfare of their daughter, who by now was Harnecker’s girlfriend, that they hired a private detective, Rainer Hofmann to help out.
Schynder’s story then took a new twist, worthy of any soap opera, when she split with Harnecker and eventually married Hofmann in December 2003.