Sharapova work ethic put to the test again in win

May 31st, 2008 - 10:21 pm ICT by admin  

DPA
Paris, May 31 (DPA) Maria Sharapova laboured to her third difficult win at the French Open, grinding through an 81-minute opening set before breaking it open 7-6 (7-4), 6-0 over Karin Knapp to reach the fourth round Saturday. Sharapova has struggled with rain delays and stubborn opponents as she moved into the weekend of the clay-court major.

Sharapova struck 23 unforced errors in the lengthy opening set before seizing the match against the number 38 from northern Italy.

“I still managed to play for two hours. There was good quality in the second set,” said the top seed. “I got more aggressive and didn’t give her any easy balls.

“I made it more difficult in the second set for her. That is my job out of there. The first set was not so good, but I improved in the second.”

On the men’s side, Radek Stepanek knocked out 12th seed Tommy Robredo 6-3, 6-2, 6-1 while Robby Ginepri sprang a surprise as he put an American into the second week with a 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 win over Florent Serra.

Earlier, a heavily taped Jelena Jankovic completed some unfinished business from the night before in a 7-5, 6-3 decision over Dominika Cibulkova.

The Serb third seed had won the opening set on Friday evening and led 4-2 in the second when play was called off due to bad light.

Jankovic has been playing with her right forearm bandaged after complaining of pain in the previous round.

“I’ve been receiving a lot of treatment the last couple of days, and I’m feeling better and better,” said the winner. “I had tape, which helped me.

“I was doing fine during the match. I didn’t have any problems, so I’m happy about that.”

She also went to the tissue as well as the towel during changeovers and between points on the way to victory over the 31st- ranked Slovak Cibulkova.

The underdog showed no signs of giving in as the resumption of the match began with a massive 30-shot rally.

But Jankovic proved to be too strong as the double Rome champion completed the victory in just under two hours under grey but dry skies.

Jankovic blamed heavy conditions and balls which fluff up in humidity.

“I was like Popeye,” she said, pointing to her forearm. “A lot of players have been having some problems with the arms. You have to hit really many, many shots if you want to win the points.”

Svetlana Kuznetsova, seeded fourth, defeated fellow-Russian Nadia Petrova 6-2, 6-1 to run her record with her compatriot to 4-1.

Russia’s 13th seed Dinara Safina almost lost a second-set lead but prevailed over Zheng Jie of China 6-2, 7-5.

Belarus 16th seed Viktoria Azarenka crushed Italian veteran Francesca Schiavone 6-1, 6-1.

“I was just focussed on playing my game and playing point by point,” said the 18-year-old Azarenka. “That helps me to play that good, I just focus on every point, not the score.”
DPA

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