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Sharapova prevails despite fans' fire

FRENCH OPEN NOTES

June 04, 2007|Chuck Culpepper | Special to The Times

PARIS — Maria Sharapova's Roland Garros odyssey of shoulder pain, moderate expectations and advancement wandered into its most hazardous curve on her toughest surface Sunday. She weathered two match points, won anyway, and added controversy to the noisy equation.

Deep into a 77-minute third set in the fourth round against reliable veteran Patty Schnyder, Sharapova faced a match point with Schnyder serving at 5-4, another with Schnyder serving at 7-6, and teetered two points from ouster 11 times.

Sharapova won, 3-6, 6-4, 9-7, but not without booing as accompaniment to her lone ace of the match. In the 7-7 game, she served at 30-0 just as Schnyder held up her hand to indicate she wasn't ready. Schnyder sought a let, but got no help from Sharapova as the chair umpire ruled ace.

"It's tough playing tennis and being Mother Teresa at the same time and making everyone happy," Sharapova said.

Sharapova also took time out in the final game to change rackets and received a code warning. Said Schnyder, who has played in 41 consecutive Grand Slams, reaching 12 fourth rounds, four quarterfinals and one semifinal, "I was playing my points. It didn't affect me. And at the end, yeah, she was the big champion. I'm the little one who could not win."

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The eight women's quarterfinalists come from the top nine players in the world, with only No. 5 Amelie Mauresmo missing after a third-round loss Saturday.

All have reached Grand Slam quarterfinals previously, with the least experienced, Ana Ivanovic of Serbia and Anna Chakvetadze of Russia, each having done so only once.

Deepening the tournament's Serbian theme, two Serbs, 22-year-old Jelena Jankovic and 19-year-old Ana Ivanovic, cracked the group, outstanding for a country of only 10 million.

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Roger Federer's mastery has reached the point that it's necessary to keep an eye upon his record in Grand Slam \o7sets\f7. That would be 35-0 since the 2006 U.S. Open, tying a Grand Slam record for consecutive sets won set by John McEnroe in 1984.

He won the last two sets against Andy Roddick in that final, all 21 sets in the Australian Open, and all 12 sets thus far in the French, including three on Sunday despite some tough work against 13th-seeded Russian Mikhail Youzhny.

It flatters Youzhny that the score was 7-6 (3), 6-4, 6-4, because that made him the fifth player since the U.S. Open to carry Federer to a tiebreaker.

"He should have beat me here," Federer said. "I got lucky."

Still lurking for a potential Federer semifinal would be Argentina's Guillermo Canas, who beat the king at both Indian Wells and Miami this year, and whose 6-0, 6-4, 6-2 demolition of Juan Monaco means he has blistered through his first four matches from a No. 19 seeding with the loss of only one set.

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Richard Williams, the father and co-coach of Venus and Serena Williams, said Venus' visit to a doctor over the weekend helped explain her third-set fade in a third-round loss to No. 4-seeded Jankovic.

"I didn't learn until Venus got home that her knee was actually hurting her," Richard Williams said. "I couldn't figure out why she was standing up so high. I thought she had fear in her."

He said Venus learned that she shouldn't have played in this French Open, but did not know whether she could play Wimbledon fully fit.

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