An inspired Lucie Safarova pulled off the biggest upset of the fortnight at the French Open on Monday, taking out the No.2 seed and defending champion, Maria Sharapova.
WTA Staff

PARIS, France - An inspired Lucie Safarova pulled off the biggest upset of the fortnight at the French Open on Monday, taking out No.2 seed and defending champion Maria Sharapova, in straight sets.

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It's always been a dangerous match-up for Sharapova - she'd won four of their previous five meetings, but their last three matches were marathon three-setters - and from the beginning Safarova gave her trouble, jumping out to a 3-1 lead and, after getting broken back, sneaking the set out in a tie-break.

The second set was a similar story, Safarova racing out to a 3-0 lead, Sharapova grinding back to 3-all, and the two staying on serve the next few games. But with Sharapova serving 4-5, Safarova pounced, missing her first match point with a netted forehand but immediately bringing up match point No.2.

The No.13-seeded Safarova ripped one last forehand winner to finish Sharapova off, 7-6(3), 6-4.

"I feel like I had small openings, and I just wasn't able to play a good few points," Sharapova said. "I just wasn't able to keep that level up today. She was able to do that for a longer period of time. She was the much more aggressive player, took the time away from me, created her angles - and I didn't.

"That was the difference today, in my opinion. My opponent was at a much higher level than I was, and more consistently than I was, and that results in a bad day at the office. It was just a tough day."

"The last few times I played Maria we had really long battles. I remember they were really close, and I almost beat her in Stuttgart, but I always lost," Safarova said afterwards. "Yesterday I was really pumped, and really ready, and I just wanted to take this match. I was just excited to be there.

"It was a beautiful day, a beautiful day to play."

That short crosscourt forehand Safarova hit on match point was something she used all match.

"Well, you have got to use it," she said. "It's a different rotation, and players usually don't like it, so I was taking advantage of the forehand side. Obviously I had to keep serving strong and just go for it. But I also had to concentrate hard - she's such a fighter and can come back from any situation."

Safarova's win over the World No.2 was the equal-biggest win of her career. She beat a No.2-ranked Justine Henin at Paris [Indoors] in 2007 and a No.2-ranked Caroline Wozniacki at Stuttgart in 2010.

She's now into her third Grand Slam quarterfinal, having been a quarterfinalist at the Australian Open in 2007 (falling to Nicole Vaidisova) and a semifinalist at Wimbledon in 2014 (falling to Petra Kvitova).

Next up for Safarova here will be No.21-seeded WTA Rising Star Garbiñe Muguruza, who rallied from 2-0 down in the first set and 4-1 down in the second set to beat No.28 seed Flavia Pennetta, 6-3, 6-4.