Sharapova leaves to boos after drubbing

Do not try talking to Maria Sharapova about the joys of Paris in the spring. Not only did the 21-year-old Russian suffer a bruising 6-7, 7-6, 6-2 defeat by Dinara Safina and the probable loss of her world No 1 ranking here yesterday but she also left Court Suzanne Lenglen to the sound of boos and jeers.

The crowd at Roland Garros are never reluctant to make their feelings known, even if the reasons for their sympathies are sometimes less than clear. They do not like what they see as arrogance or bad sportsmanship, but on occasions just being rich, beautiful, successful and American – or sounding like one – can be enough to earn their contempt. They must have thought the former Wimbledon champion fitted the bill on most counts.

Sharapova's shrieking appeared not to endear her to the spectators, who also whistled their disapproval if she queried a line call. At the end she left in a hurry and without acknowledging the crowd, which also seemed to contribute to their displeasure.

Twelve months ago the same court had given her a similarly hard time. On that occasion Sharapova said that it was "tough playing tennis and being Mother Theresa at the same time" after she was booed following a win over Patty Schnyder, having changed rackets in the middle of a game and aced the Swiss when she was holding up her hand to indicate she was not ready.

"I can't please everyone," Sharapova said last night. "It's not in my job description. I'm an athlete. I go out there and I fight my heart out. They paid for their tickets to watch me, so they must appreciate me on some level."

It would be wrong, nevertheless, to suggest that matters off court had anything to do with Sharapova's performance. No player can match her ability to block out a crowd's disapproval and this was a defeat waiting to happen given her patchy form in the previous three rounds. If Sharapova's erratic serve held up reasonably well on this occasion, other parts of her game were in pieces. Never the best mover on clay, she was frequently caught out by the weight of Safina's shots, while her own ground strokes were never reliable.

Safina, who probably benefited from her brother Marat's popularity here, had won two of her previous three matches against Sharapova and won a title on clay in Berlin last month.

The world No 14, who now plays another fellow Russian, Elena Dementieva, might have won the first set. Her frustration was evident when she hurled her racket to the floor after putting a poor backhand in the net on set point. But she showed commendable resilience in fighting back from 5-2 down in the second set and saving a match point at 5-3. Sharapova led 5-2 in the second tie-break, only to lose five points in a row, and from 2-2 in the third set she folded.

Sharapova's return to No 1 after Justine Henin's retirement last month is likely to be short-lived. Ana Ivanovic, Jelena Jankovic or Svetlana Kuznetsova could replace her next week. "Boo-hoo," Sharapova said, sarcastically. "Believe me, when I first got off the court it wasn't the first thing that was on my mind."

Sharapova is scheduled to compete next week at Edgbaston, where she usually hones her grass-court game before Wimbledon, but, she said: "Maybe I need a bit more rest. I might go home for a little bit."

Another world No 1 kitted out in chic navy blue fared better over on Court Philippe Chatrier. Roger Federer beat Julien Benneteau 6-4, 7-5, 7-5 and now plays Fernando Gonzalez, who beat Robby Ginepri of the United States. Gaël Monfils kept home interest alive when he overcame Ivan Ljubicic to earn a quarter-final against David Ferrer, a five-set winner over Radek Stepanek.

Britain's Jamie Murray and his American partner, Liezel Huber, are through to the last eight of the mixed doubles, having been awarded a walk-over when the fifth seeds, Yan Zi and Mark Knowles, withdrew. Ross Hutchins, the last Briton in the men's doubles, and his Australian partner, Stephen Huss, lost in three sets to Russia's Igor Kunitsyn and Dmitry Tursunov.

Quarter-finals: Men: R Federer v F Gonzalez; G Monfils v D Ferrer; E Gulbis v N Djokovic; N Almagro v R Nadal.

Women: D Safina v E Dementieva; S Kuznetsova or V Azarenka v K Kanepi or P Kvitova; C Suarez Navarro v J Jankovic; P Schnyder v A Ivanovic.

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

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

Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
12 best olive oils

Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back