Defending champion Maria Sharapova joined third seed Victoria Azarenka in the French Open quarter-finals as both posted routine fourth-round wins.
Sharapova was all business in seeing off American 17th seed Sloane Stephens 6-4 6-3 yesterday to set up a meeting with Serbian 18th seed Jelena Jankovic,who thrashed US hope Jamie Hampton 6-0 6-2,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,gifting her a final break by hitting 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 found the wind made her task a little more challenging than she had hoped. “We had a few freaky points,a few shanks. But,overall,I was happy with the way I focused most of the match,” said the Russian,who joked her father “thinks I can beat Rafael Nadal on clay.”
Self-critically she added: “This tournament I don’t think I have played,you know,my best level,especially in the first few rounds. I thought I needed to step it up today. Yet it only gets tougher from here.” Jankovic,who coasted past an outclassed Hampton in 62min,has a 1-7 career record against Sharapova,whom she beat on grass six years ago,and conceded the odds are stacked against her. “It will be a tough one I will just try to play my best tennis,” said the 28-year-old.