PARIS — 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, 3-hour struggle at a wet and windy French Open on Monday, 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 the 12 double-faults, plus 41 other errors of Sharapova’s own doing. 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 quarterfinals 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.
“It’s good we have a day off tomorrow so we can step it up again,” he said. “This was clearly a match where she was not playing as well as she should.”
Sharapova and Hogstedt both said her wrist, which she repeatedly flexed during the match, shouldn’t be an issue. 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.
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 quarterfinals. She’d be the first to make it to the semifinals if she beats Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, who ended the career-best run of unseeded American Varvara Lepchenko, 6-2, 6-1.
There are no heartwarming, out-of-nowhere stories like hers among the remaining men. It’s the first Grand Slam tournament since the 1984 French Open with all top six seeded men in the quarterfinals.
Rafael Nadal’s pursuit of a record seventh French Open title rolled on with another rout, this one a 6-2, 6-0, 6-0 victory over his pal, Juan Monaco of Argentina.
In two matches halted in progress Sunday night by darkness, No. 5 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga finished off No. 18 Stanislas Wawrinka, 6-4, 7-6 (6), 3-6, 3-6, 6-4, while No. 9 Juan Martin del Potro defeated No. 7 Tomas Berdych, 7-6 (6), 1-6, 6-3, 7-5.