Struggling Sharapova succumbs to curse of the cover star

As the world's highest-earning sportswoman Maria Sharapova is used to appearing on the front of magazines, but the Russian might have feared the worst when her photograph adorned the cover of yesterday's programme here at the French Open. For the 10th day in a row the featured player went out of the tournament as Sharapova was trounced 6-0, 6-2 by Dominika Cibulkova, who will now play Dinara Safina in the semi-finals.

It could have been worse. Cibulkova, a 20-year-old Slovakian, had a match point when leading 6-0 and 5-0. Sharapova, playing in only her second tournament following an absence of nearly 10 months with a shoulder injury, went on to save a total of four match points before Cibulkova secured a place in her first Grand Slam semi-final. "The pace wasn't there on my strokes and I was five steps slower today," Sharapova said afterwards. "But reflecting back on everything that I've been through in the last year, I think I can sit here and say I'm pretty proud of what I've achieved, not only in this tournament, but in that whole time. I've just got to keep working and keep my head up."

Safina had dropped only five games in her first four matches here, but was pushed all the way by Victoria Azarenka, the world No 9, before winning her quarter-final 1-6, 6-4, 6-2. Azarenka, a 19-year-old from Belarus who has won three tournaments this year, took the first set in 23 minutes, but Safina is the most dogged of competitors and fought her way back. Although Azarenka recovered from an early break in the second set to level at 4-4, Safina took control from that point.

"For me the match is never over," the world No 1 said, "but I hope from the next match that I will start to dominate from the first point."

PROMOTED VIDEO
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 crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project