Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Sports

Sharapova wings it, wins

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, three-hour struggle at a wet, 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 Sharapova laughed about later. The exasperating line calls and what the second seed considered an obstinate chair umpire. Her 12 double faults, plus 41 other errors. 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."

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 pulled out a 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 6-2 victory over 44th-ranked Klara Zakopalova.

"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 … 'Really? What's the point? … What's the point of having me?' But I apologized when I hired him, in advance, so he's okay."

Sharapova said she jammed her wrist on a service return, "but … nothing to worry about."

As for her second-set stumble, Sharapova chuckled and said: "That was my first fall of the clay season, which is the biggest shocker. I usually have a few before the French Open."

She was less amused by the work of chair umpire Julie Kjendlie of Norway, engaging in a couple of extended arguments about rulings.

"The first one was the most questionable one, I guess, because she couldn't find the mark. … What do you say to that? You can't find the mark? It was like, 'Well, isn't that your job?' … I mean, we're on clay courts. Usually when there is no mark, it means it's on the line. She had an answer for everything out there."

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

Defending champion Li Na, seeded seventh, was ousted by qualifier Yaroslava Shvedova 3-6, 6-2, 6-0. Sharapova's next opponent, No. 23 Kaia Kanepi, hasn't been beyond the quarterfinals at any Grand Slam but got to that round for the fourth time by defeating unseeded Arantxa Rus 6-1, 4-6, 6-0.

Rafael Nadal's pursuit of a record seventh French Open title rolled on with another rout, 6-2, 6-0, 6-0 over 13th-seeded Juan Monaco. Nadal is 49-1 for his career at the French Open.

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