Sharapova through after epic battle with Zakopalova
Monday 04 June 2012
Maria Sharapova battled her way into the French Open quarter-finals with a 6-4 6-7 (5/7) 6-2 victory over Klara Zakopalova in a match that featured an astonishing 21 breaks of serve.
The Russian had breezed through her first three matches, dropping only five games, but the conditions today - cold, windy and damp - were a real challenge.
Sharapova's serve has been her main weakness since her shoulder problems of 2008 but, initially at least, it seemed to be holding up pretty well in the circumstances.
The second seed always had the edge in the opening set but Zakopalova fought hard, pulling back from 5-2 to 5-4 before Sharapova finally clinched it.
The pair had met three times before, with the Czech player's only win coming back in 2003 when Sharapova was 15, but she did compete well when they faced each other in Madrid last month.
Sharapova again took an early lead in the second set but once more Zakopalova, looking to reach her first grand slam quarter-final, fought back.
Both players were finding it increasingly difficult to hold their serve and, although Sharapova served for the match at 5-4 and 6-5, it seemed inevitable there would be more breaks.
And so it proved, sending the set into a tie-break, and this time it was Zakopalova who had the edge, taking it on her third set point when Sharapova blazed a return wide.
The Russian seemed to be having problems with her right wrist but that did not stop her winning the first three games of the decider.
It continued to be a struggle, though, with Sharapova, who next faces either Arantxa Rus or Kaia Kanepi, eventually prevailing after three hours and 11 minutes, perhaps appropriately on a double fault.
The second seed is looking for her first title at Roland Garros to complete her set of grand slams, while reaching the final would see her overtake Victoria Azarenka as world number one.
David De Gea to Real Madrid: Spanish club resume £28m pursuit after fending Manchester United off Sergio Ramos
Karim Benzema to Arsenal: Transfer news live - Angel Di Maria to leave Manchester United, Emmanuel Adebayor to Aston Villa
Diego Costa biography: Chelsea striker's route to the top - from those who shared his journey
Ashes 2015 Third Test Day One report: England skittle Australia for 136, James Anderson takes six wickets, Ian Bell hits half-century
Nicolas Otamendi to Manchester United: Sergio Ramos is only defender of interest to Louis van Gaal
- 1 Australia to impose 24-hour curfew on all cats to protect endangered species
- 2 Model's video shoot on the beach interrupted by sudden landing of a group of illegal migrants
- 3 The difference between a psychopath and a sociopath
- 4 MH370: Boeing 777 wing that could match missing plane found on the French island of Reunion
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn – or a return to a Labour government
Labour leadership contender Jeremy Corbyn says 'we can learn a great deal from Karl Marx'
I am the Jeremy Corbyn supporter that many will tell you doesn't exist
Public anger after French sunbather beaten up by gang for wearing a bikini in Reims park
Labour leadership: New poll shows party is now even 'less electable' than under Ed Miliband
Labour leadership contest: I would never quit the party, says Liz Kendall