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Sharapova stumbles to French Open win

Published:Tuesday | June 5, 2012 | 12:00 AM

PARIS (AP):On days like these, when so little goes right and so much goes awry, Maria Sharapova tosses away the strategies and scouting reports her coach devises and, well, does whatever it takes to win.

Locked in a three-set, three-hour struggle at a wet and windy French Open yesterday, Sharapova's right, racket-swinging wrist was aching - and that, she insisted, was the least of her problems.

There was the tumble to her backside that Sharapova could laugh about later. The exasperating line calls and what the second-seeded Russian considered an obstinate chair umpire. The 12 double-faults, plus 41 other errors of Sharapova's own doing. The nine breaks she allowed, including three while serving for the match. The unseeded foe who wouldn't go away.

"It was,'' Sharapova summed up, "a good test for me.''

Certainly the first she's faced at Roland Garros this year. After dropping a total of five games in three matches that averaged less than an hour each, Sharapova moved into the quarter-finals at the only Grand Slam tournament she hasn't won by dispensing with tactics and swinging away until she finally pulled out a 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-2 victory over 44th-ranked Klara Zakopalova of the Czech Republic.

"I'm useless with game plans. That's probably the one thing (coach Thomas Hogstedt) just gets so frustrated with me about,'' Sharapova said. "I go out there and I do my own thing, and then he's like, after the match, 'Really? What's the point? I mean, what's the point of having me?' But I apologised when I hired him, in advance, so he's OK.''

Sharapova and Hogstedt both said her wrist, which she repeatedly flexed during the match and fiddled with at her news conference afterward, shouldn't be an issue going forward. Something else that might not be? The opposition. It seems that nearly every day a potential roadblock is swept out of the draw, from Serena Williams, to Francesca Schiavone, to Li Na.

Indeed, Sharapova now has one thing in common with every woman left: None has won the French Open.

doubles specialist

Her next opponent, No. 23 Kaia Kanepi of Estonia, hasn't been beyond the quarter-finals at any Grand Slam tournament, but got to that round for the fourth time by defeating unseeded Arantxa Rus of the Netherlands 6-1, 4-6, 6-0.

Asked whether she thinks she can beat three-time major champion Sharapova, Kanepi replied: ''If I play well, of course. Why not?''

Defending champion Li's surprising exit came against Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan, an eyeglasses-wearing doubles specialist ranked 142nd in singles who needed to go through qualifying rounds to enter the main draw.

Shvedova dropped to her knees after taking the last 10 games to eliminate the seventh-seeded Li 3-6, 6-2, 6-0 and become the ninth qualifier to reach the French Open quarter-finals. She'd be the first to make it to the semi-finals if she beats Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, who ended the career-best run of unseeded American Varvara Lepchenko 6-2, 6-1.