Sharapova loses to Safarova at French Open; Federer wins


AP

PARIS — Defending champion Maria Sharapova’s bid for a third French Open title in four years is over.

Coughing between points on an overcast day, the second-seeded Sharapova was outplayed throughout a 7-6 (3), 6-4 loss to 13th-seeded Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic in the fourth round Monday.

“My opponent had a different gear than I did,” Sharapova said.

It is her earliest defeat at Roland Garros since 2010, when she was beaten in the third round. Since then, the Russian won the clay-court Grand Slam tournament in 2012 and 2014, was the runner-up to Serena Williams in 2013, and reached the semifinals in 2011.

Safarova dictated much of the action and held her nerve as the far more experienced and accomplished Sharapova tried to mount a comeback in the second set.

“Maria is an amazing player. I needed to play aggressive and to come forward for the points,” Safarova said.

The left-handed Safarova wound up with a considerable edge in winners, 34-20, including forehands on the last two points to break Sharapova.

“I felt like I had small openings, and I just wasn’t able to … play a good few points. I just wasn’t able to keep that level up today,” Sharapova said. “She was able to do that for a longer period of time. … She took the time away from me, created her angles and I didn’t. That was the difference today, in my opinion.”

She did not use the cold she’s been dealing with as an excuse, saying: “I don’t like to talk about it, and I don’t think it really makes a difference. I’m still a competitor, no matter what.”

In her first French Open quarterfinal, Safarova will face No. 21 Garbine Muguruza of Spain, who beat No. 28 Flavia Pennetta of Italy 6-3, 6-4.

Both of those fourth-round matches were originally supposed to be played Sunday, but were postponed after a rain delay in the afternoon.

They instead became part of a Monday full of tennis’ biggest names, with Williams and the Big 4 of the men’s game — Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray — all on the schedule.