Tennis

Sharapova storms into last 16

2012-06-02 17:45
Maria Sharapova (AFP)

Paris - Maria Sharapova stormed into the French Open last 16 on Saturday, brushing aside China's Peng Shuai 6-2, 6-1, while semi-final rivals Li Na and Petra Kvitova laboured to reach the second week.

Second seed Sharapova fired 27 winners past 28th seed Peng in a 66-minute Philippe Chatrier court demolition.

The Russian, a semi-finalist in 2011, and seeking a French Open title to complete a career Grand Slam, has lost just five games in three rounds.

She will next face Czech veteran Klara Zakopalova who put out Russian 22nd seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-3, 7-5.

"I came in knowing that I was facing a tough opponent who has beaten me before and against who I have played three sets," said Sharapova.

"She can really play, hits the ball really well, so I tried to keep her moving, tried to get her on the run."

Defending champion Li Na, the seventh seed, battled back to defeat America's Christina McHale 3-6, 6-2, 6-1.

The 30-year-old Li had to draw upon her 10-year age gap to prevail over the 36th-ranked American, who had fallen in the first round in 2010 and 2011.

"She's a very dangerous player. I was happy I could win the match today because I have more experience," said seventh-seeded Li, who will face Kazakh qualifier Yaroslava Shvedova for a place in the quarter-finals.

Italian 14th seed Francesca Schiavone, the 2010 champion and runner-up to Li last year, lost 3-6, 6-3, 8-6 to America's Varvara Lepchenko, the world number 63, who has reached the last 16 of a Grand Slam for the first time.

Schiavone, the oldest player left in the tournament at 31, will lose her place in the world top 20 as a result of her defeat.

Uzbekistan-born Lepchenko, who had defeated 19th seed Jelena Jankovic in the second round, squandered the opportunity to serve for the match in the ninth game of the decider, but held her nerve in the 14th.

It was the 26-year-old's second successive win over Schiavone, having also won in three sets in the second round of the Madrid claycourt tournament in May.

"I was fighting till the end. She played amazing. It's her court. I knew that she's not gonna give it for free. I had to work really hard, and I did," said Lepchenko, who next tackles Petra Kvitova, the fourth-seeded Czech.

Wimbledon champion Kvitova, 22, reached the last 16 for the third time but she did it the hard way, serving up eight double faults and committing 37 unforced errors in her 6-2, 4-6, 6-1 win over Russian world number 109 Nina Bratchikova.

She was only saved by her fierce, flatly hit groundstrokes which left the Portugal-based Bratchikova gasping.

"I started well, had a set already, and then I was very aggressive and I knew what I had to do," said Kvitova.

"In the second set I was still like, okay, if I play like the first set, it will be fine. But it wasn't. She played much better than the first set. She had a better serve, and it was tough to return."

"She had pressure from the first shot that she played. I was running side to side and that's not my game. So I had to change and be aggressive and put her a little further back."

Also making the last 16 was Shvedova, a quarter-finalist in 2010, who eased past Spain's Carla Suarez-Navarro 6-4, 7-5.

Later Saturday, former world number one Caroline Wozniacki, the ninth seed, meets Kaia Kanepi of Estonia.


Read more on:    french open  |  maria sharapova  |  tennis
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