Li's shock defeat clears the way for Sharapova


You would no doubt have got long odds on a French Open quarter-final line-up featuring Yaroslava Shvedova, Dominika Cibulkova, Sara Errani and Kaia Kanepi, but the cull of the big names in the women's tournament continued yesterday. Li Na, the defending champion and the only former winner left in the draw, was the latest to fall, beaten 3-6, 6-2, 6-0 by Shvedova, a qualifier from Kazakhstan who is ranked No 142 in the world.

Li, who became the first Chinese player to win a Grand Slam singles title with her triumph here last year, appeared to be comfortably in control in the first set but lost 12 of the last 14 games.

"I just tried to play the ball back into the court, but I couldn't," Li said after a match in which she made 41 unforced errors. "Right now, I want to totally relax the mind and body. I need some time to recover. I'm not a machine."

The bespectacled Shvedova, who was a top-30 singles player two years ago, has enjoyed more success in doubles. She is ranked No 5 in the world in doubles and has won two Grand Slam doubles titles. The boldness of the 24-year-old's play appeared to shake Li, whose mistakes multiplied as the match wore on.

"I think it's the most incredible win for me," Shvedova said afterwards. "I always have nice matches against top players because it's easier, because I have no pressure."

Li's defeat leaves Maria Sharapova as the favourite for the title, though you would not have guessed that from the Russian's performance against Klara Zakopalova. The match, which lasted three hours and 11 minutes, featured 101 unforced errors and a remarkable 21 breaks of serve before Sharapova won 6-4, 6-7, 6-2. It could not have finished in more appropriate fashion, with Zakopalova serving a double-fault on the final point.

Zakopalova is one of the tour's journeywomen. The 30-year-old Czech is the world No 44 and has never been higher than No 27 in the rankings. She won the last of her two titles seven years ago and has gone out in the first round in 23 of her 34 appearances at Grand Slam tournaments.

Sharapova, who dropped only five games in her first three matches, served for the match at 5-4 and 6-5 in the second set, but was having problems with her right wrist and went on to lose the tie-break when Zakopalova converted her third set point. However, the world No 2 quickly took control of the decider.

"I thought my opponent played extremely well, the best that she's played against me," Sharapova said. "She's dangerous. She can play well. She's had very good wins, so she's confident. On top of that, when she hits the ball, I think some days she goes out there and goes for it, and it seems like everything just goes in and stays so low over the net."

The Russian, who now plays Kanepi, will replace Victoria Azarenka as world No 1 if she wins the title, but could face a major test in the semi-finals against Petra Kvitova, although the Wimbledon champion has to find a way past Shvedova to make the last four. Kvitova moved smoothly into the quarter-finals by beating Varvara Lepchenko 6-2, 6-1 in just 63 minutes.



Roland Garros, Paris: Women's Singles Fourth round: Y Shvedova (Kaz) bt (7) N Li (Chin) 3-6 6-2 6-0; (4) P Kvitova (Cz Rep) bt V Lepchenko (US) 6-2 6-1; (23) K Kanepi (Est) bt A Rus (Neth) 6-1 4-6 6-0; (2) M Sharapova (Rus) bt K Zakopalova (Cz Rep) 6-4 6-7 (5-7) 6-2.


Suggested Topics
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map