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If there was ever a tennis player born to win Grand Slam titles in the fashion capital of the world it was Maria Sharapova. And the Russian diva continued to make solid progress towards her first French Open title with an amazingly hard fought 3 hour plus win over 30-year old Czech veteran Klara Zakopalova 6-4, 6-7, 6-2. Clearing the path for Maria was Kazakhstan's Yaroslava Shvedova, who stunned the defending champion Li Na also in three sets, 3-6, 6-2, 6-0.
The pre-tournament favourite Maria Sharapova survived gusty winds and a spirited opponent in world no.42, Klara Zakopalova to move into the quarterfinals at the French Open. In a match that saw as many as 63 break points, the Russian finally prevailed over Zakopalova in 3 hours and 11 minutes. Both the players served poorly in the match but the Russian had a better second serve as compared to her Czech opponent. She will meet the winner of the match between Kaia Kanepi and Arantxa Rus in the quarters.
Both the players were struggling with their serves and the windy conditions just added to their woes. Zakopalova was broken in her opening service game only to break right back. Sharapova eased her way to a 5-2 lead before Zakopalova held serve for the first time today to stay alive in the first set. The Czech continued to be stubborn, breaking Sharapova to claw her way back to 5-4, before throwing it away at the end as Sharapova closed out the first set, 6-4. The Czech was stronger in the rallies as she used the pace of the ball well and kept changing the direction of the shots to earn her points. However, Zakopalova barely managed to get her first serve in and the Russian was all over her second.
The second set started in a similar fashion with the two women breaking each otherâ€™s serves at will. Zakopalova kept dominating the rallies with her low backhands to put Sharapova on the backfoot. The Russian couldnâ€™t get her footing on the clay and the extra pace generated by Klara left her frustrated. Maria served for the match twice at 5-4 and 6-5, but the breaking saga continued with Klara forcing the set into a tie-break.
Sharapova was unlucky to lose the second point of the tie-break as she hit a brilliant winner only to challenge Zakopalovaâ€™s earlier shot which she thought was out. But the umpire ruled in Zakopalovâ€™s favour and awarded her the point to give her a mini lead of 2-0. The pretty Russian clawed her way back to 3-3 at the change of ends, but committed unforced errors to give the Czech 3 set points at 6-3. Zakopalova clinched the set only on the third set point when Sharapovaâ€™s forehand missed the line.
The world no.2 though got off to a strong start to race to a 3-0 lead in the final set with Klara continuing to struggle with her serve. The Russian came out to serve for the match at 5-1 but her opponent had not given up yet and she saved a match point en route to breaking Sharapova. Unfortunately, she couldnâ€™t hold on to her own serve and finally folded to the Russian, who celebrated an incredible whirlwind contest with her patented style and elegance.
Over on Court Suzanne Lenglen, defending champion Li Na appeared to be in control of her match with Kazakh qualifier Yaroslava Shvedova, despite the blustery conditions. Li cruised through the opening set 6-3 before capitulating badly winning just 2 games in the next two sets, going down rather tamely in the end. It was an incredible win though for the world no.142 Shvedova, who also made the quarter-finals here a couple of years ago. She is best known though for her doubles play, having captured back to back Grand Slam titles at Wimbledon and the US Open also in 2010. She will play the winner of the Petra Kvitova - Varvara Lepchenko match later tonight.
Women's Singles - 4th Round
Maria Sharapova(RUS) def. Klara Zakopalova(CZE) 6-4 6-7(5) 6-2
Yaroslava Shvedova(KAZ) def. Na Li(CHN) 3-6 6-2 6-0
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