Sharapova, Azarenka make French Open last 8
PARIS, France -- Defending champion Maria Sharapova joined third seed Victoria Azarenka in the French Open quarter-finals Monday as both posted routine fourth-round wins.
Sharapova was all business in seeing off American 17th seed Sloane Stephens 6-4, 6-3 to set up a meeting with either Serbian 18th seed Jelena Jankovic or US hope Jamie Hampton, while double Australian Open champion Azarenka swamped 2010 French Open champion Francesca Schiavone 6-3, 6-0.
Sharapova, who in beating Sara Errani in last year's final became the sixth player in the Open era to complete a full collection of Grand Slams, was rarely troubled by Stephens, Australian Open semi-finalist last January, the Floridian 20-year-old gifting her a final break by hitting long on match point.
"I knew this was going to be a really hard match so I'm delighted to be in the quarter-final," said Sharapova, who now has an extra day to relax.
"Am I pleased to have finished my match a day before my next opponent? We don't choose the scheduling, it just depends how it goes. I'm just pleased to be through to the next round."
Former partners clash
Next up for Azarenka is a meeting with Russian 12th seed and erstwhile doubles partner Maria Kirilenko after her win over Schiavone moved her into the last eight for the third time in Paris.
The protagonists notably paired up at the 2011 Australian Open, where they finished runners-up. Then they were rivals as Azarenka won their London Olympics bronze medal encounter last summer.
Azarenka was delighted with her form, given that the French Open is the only Grand Slam where she has failed to get beyond the quarter-finals having been beaten at the last-eight stage by Dinara Safina in 2009 and by eventual champion Li Na two years later.
"I think it was the most composed and the most consistent match so far," she said.
"The beginning was back and forth. I feel like I didn't take all of the opportunities but there was kind of a build-up to later on that I was doing the right thing."
Back from injury
Kirilenko, who had treatment for a sore shoulder, saw off unseeded Bethanie Mattek-Sands of the United States 7-5, 6-4 to reach the last eight at Roland Garros for the first time after recovering from losing the opening three games.
The 26-year-old from Moscow, who broke in the sixth and eighth games to make up for her slow start and then overcame an opening service loss at the start of the second set, has now equalled her best ever Grand Slam showing of runs to the quarters at Wimbledon 2012 and the Australian Open three seasons ago.
Azarenka has a 3-2 winning record against Kirilenko -- who won the first two matches of their series although her last triumph was back in 2007.
"Maria, I played her a lot of times. I think the last time we played was the Olympics. She's definitely improved a lot over the last couple years since she's a very motivated player (and a) good friend of mine, also," said Azarenka. - Rappler.com