Shvedova Beats Li, Sharapova Hangs On
Published June 04, 2012 12:00
PARIS, France - It was already a re-breakthrough for her to reach the second week, but to beat the defending champion and get back to the quarterfinals? Yaroslava Shvedova continued her shock run at Roland Garros on Monday, stunning Li Na and proving knee surgery can't stop her from her dreams.
Shvedova was one of the fastest-rising stars in 2010, not just making her first Grand Slam quarterfinal right here but taking the doubles scene by storm with Vania King, winning Wimbledon and the US Open with the American.
Then came the knee injury, and subsequent surgery, and subsequent struggles in 2011. She managed to maintain her Top 10 doubles ranking but in singles fell all the way out of the Top 200 - needless to say, it was a difficult time.
Having worked her way back up to No.142 this year, Shvedova had to work her way through the qualifying draw, and maybe it was there where she got her groove again - she would then win her first three main draw matches in straight sets. She spoke to wtatennis.com after a very rewarding third round win.
Facing the No.7-seeded Li, Shvedova had a bit of a slow start but from 63 22 down completely unloaded her arsenal, serving big, hitting big off the ground and sliding around the court like a natural. She reeled off 10 games in a row to pull off a 36 62 60 victory and show the tennis world she's back in the game.
"I was just fighting every ball and focusing on what I needed to do, but believe me, I was thinking a lot," the always-charismatic Shvedova said afterwards. "The thoughts were coming to me about some girls losing here from 5-1 and 5-2, and I was like, 'No, no, no, I have to focus. I have to fight, fight, fight, fight.'
"I had a game plan today, it just didn't work very well in the first set because she was playing very well. But I figured it out and changed my game from there.
"For now, I think this is the most incredible win I've had."
Two years ago here Shvedova became the first Kazakh player, male or female, to reach the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam - now she has done it twice.
Li was understandably disappointed but insisted on only looking forward. "I couldn't put the ball back in the court today, but I didn't know why - but I will find out why," she said. "All I can do now is work hard and try to win next time.
"I don't think winning here last year meant anything today. It has been a year already. Today I lost one match. I won't let it push me down."
Also advancing to the quarterfinals earlier in the day was No.2 seed Maria Sharapova, who beat Klara Zakopalova in a three-hour, 11-minute battle on Court Philippe Chatrier, 64 67(5) 62. Sharapova didn't have her best day - she hit 53 unforced errors to just 38 winners and converted on just 12 of 31 break points - she also served for the match twice in the second set, at 5-4 and 6-5.
But Sharapova's mental toughness is formidable, and she regrouped after those difficult second set moments to take the third and move on, her 20th win in her last 21 three-setters - her only three set loss since the start of the 2011 season came to Flavia Pennetta in the third round of last year's US Open.
"I thought my oppponent played extremely well - I've played her a few times already and that's the best she's ever played against me," Sharapova said after the match. "She's dangerous. She has had some very good wins before, so she's confident. On top of that, some days she goes out there and just goes for it, and it seems like everything just goes in and stays so low over the net.
"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 what matters. It's nice to be in the quarterfinals again."
Both Shvedova and Sharapova's quarterfinal opponents were determined later.