Bloomberg News

Defending French Open Champion Li Na Is Ousted as Nadal Wins

June 04, 2012

Defending French Open women’s champion Li Na was knocked out in the fourth round by qualifier Yaroslava Shvedova. Men’s six-time champion Rafael Nadal dropped two games in reaching the quarterfinals.

Li, the first Asian to win a tennis Grand Slam singles title, was beaten by the 142nd-ranked Shvedova of Kazakhstan, 3-6, 6-2, 6-0 on a windy day at Roland Garros. Li lost when she hit a backhand return into the net, her 41st error. Her opponent made 20 fewer mistakes.

“I have to find the reason why I lost the match,” Li told reporters. “I have to try working harder the next day and even come working harder next week.”

Second-seed Nadal of Spain eased past Juan Monaco of Argentina, 6-2, 6-0, 6-0. The Spaniard, who is trying to become the first man to win seven Roland Garros titles, won 17 games in a row from 2-1 down in the opening set. He’s conceded 19 games on his way to the quarterfinals this year.

“I’m very sorry for my friend,” Nadal said in a televised interview. “He suffered at the end of the match. I saw it on his face. But that’s the sport.”

The left-hander hasn’t won a major since he equaled Bjorn Borg of Sweden last year with his sixth title in Paris. The victory against Monaco was Nadal’s 251st clay-court win.

He’ll next play countryman Nicolas Almagro, who beat Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia 6-4, 6-4, 6-4, in the quarterfinals.

Murray Wins

Britain’s Andy Murray, the fourth seed, defeated France’s Richard Gasquet after falling behind. Murray, who has come back from two sets down in two of their three previous Grand Slam meetings, won 1-6, 6-4, 6-1, 6-2. Murray, who next will play 30- year-old Spaniard David Ferrer, is the only non-Spaniard remaining in his half of the draw.

Second-seeded Maria Sharapova overcame Klara Zakopalova, 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 6-2, to reach the last eight. There were 21 breaks of serve in the match, which ended with a double fault by the Czech. Sharapova, who has had a fractious relationship with the Parisian crowd, was booed by some spectators after the match.

“The conditions were difficult, so it was a good test for me,” Sharapova said in a news conference. “I had chances to finish it in two sets, and I didn’t. But I came out strong in the third set, and that’s really what matters.”

Sharapova, who has to reach the final to become the new No. 1, will next play Estonia’s Kaia Kanepi, who defeated Arantxa Rus of the Netherlands in three sets.

Fourth seed Petra Kvitova beat the final American in the tournament, Varvara Lepchenko, 6-2, 6-1. The Czech player, who won last year’s Wimbledon title, made the quarterfinals for the first time at Roland Garros.

New Champion

Li’s exit means there will be a new women’s title holder because no former Roland Garros champions are left in the draw. Sharapova, a Russian who has won the U.S. and Australian opens and Wimbledon, hasn’t reached a final in Paris. Sam Stosur of Australia won last year’s U.S. Open and is a former French Open finalist.

Li has struggled since last year’s French Open win, which turned her into the highest earner in tennis after Sharapova. She lost in the second round of Wimbledon last June, the opening round of the U.S. Open in August and the fourth round of the Australian Open in January.

While Chinese women had won Olympic gold and Grand Slam titles in doubles, Li’s defeat of Italy’s Francesca Schiavone in last year’s French Open final broke the country’s singles drought. Her win in the final was watched by 116 million viewers in China, and her third-round match two days ago by 50 million, according to French Open organizers.

Olympics Spot

Shvedova also made the quarterfinals in 2010. Her win means she’ll climb about 80 places in the rankings, putting her in contention for a spot on her country’s Olympic team. The 24- year-old, a former Wimbledon doubles champion, missed most of last year because of injury.

“I knew also before the match she’s defending champion, and she has pressure to hold on to her title,” Shvedova said in a news conference. “I was relaxed. I’ve come through qualifying and it was my seventh match in singles.”

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France beat Switzerland’s Stanislas Wawrinka to reach the quarterfinals for the first time, and ninth-seeded Juan Martin del Potro, the winner of the 2009 U.S. Open, defeated Tomas Berdych in matches that were suspended last night because of darkness.

Tsonga was leading Wawrinka 4-2 in the final set last night when play was halted. Wawrinka won the first two games today to even the score. Tsonga was able to break serve again, and won 6-4, 7-6 (8-6), 3-6, 3-6, 6-4.

‘Very Intense’

“It was very intense,” Tsonga said. “All night and this morning I thought about how I will do, how I will play, and if I will win or not. When I won the last point I felt free. That’s why there is a lot of emotion.”

Tsonga will take on world No. 1 Novak Djokovic tomorrow. Serbia’s Djokovic, 25, is trying to win his fourth straight major title to complete a non-calendar Grand Slam.

Del Potro beat Berdych, the No. 7 seed, 7-6 (8-6), 1-6, 6-3, 7-5 and moved on to face No. 3 Roger Federer of Switzerland.

Sixth-seeded David Ferrer defeated fellow Spaniard Marcel Granollers in straight sets in their fourth-round match.

Ferrer won 6-3, 6-2, 6-0. The 26-year-old Granollers hasn’t taken a set from Ferrer in four meetings.

“I am in a good moment,” Ferrer said. “I am playing very good at this tournament.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Christopher Elser in London at celser@bloomberg.net; Danielle Rossingh in London at drossingh@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at celser@bloomberg.net


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