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French Open Day 9: Murray digs deep but Sharapova falls

Maria Sharapova looks up during her Fourth round match
by Alex Sharp
Monday 1 June 2015

Wimbledon.com's highlights from the ninth day of the 2015 French Open at Roland Garros as a blockbuster day saw the Men's ‘big four’, reigning Women’s champions Maria Sharapova and world No.1 Serena Williams all in action.

Murray marches on

Andy Murray remains unbeaten on the clay this season having dispatched Frenchman Jeremy Chardy in four sets.

The Scot was severely tested under the baking sun on Suzanne Lenglen with Chardy providing stern resistance. Murray hasn’t lost to player ranked as low as world No.45 (Chardy) since the Australian Open in 2006 and all seemed to be going to plan, with the 28-year-old teasing errors out of his opponent to take the opener 6-4.

However Chardy was far from deterred and hit a purple patch to frustrate Murray, and break for 3-1 with a succession of audacious shots.  Consequently his confidence grew as he levelled the tie 6-3.

The British No.1 was forced to up his level and put the pressure on the home favourite having succumbed to an early break in the third set and duly responded with some clever angled shots.

Chardy became erratic and a ninth double fault gifted Murray a 5-3 lead which he eventually backed up to serve out the set.

By this point Chardy had run out of ideas and his aggressive strategy failed to knock a fiercely determined Murray, who hit an array of sizzling shots to book a fifth Roland Garros quarter-final.

"He had one break point, which he obviously won, but throughout the course of the match I was creating many more opportunities than him,’’ said Murray.

"I wasn't overly concerned. I just had to take my chances when they came. I did that in the third and fourth sets."

David Ferrer meets Murray in the next round, who the Scot has never defeated on clay in four attempts.

The end score: 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2

Sharapova ousted 

Reigning champion Maria Sharapova suffered her earliest defeat at Roland Garros since 2010, falling to 13th seed Lucie Safarova 7-6(3), 6-4.

This was expected to be a tight affair after their previous three meetings had all gone the distance but the Russian was rather subdued.

An error-strewn first set culminated with a tie-break which is when Safarova showcased her potential.

The Czech stormed ahead with a combination of piercing drives and well orchestrated points as Sharapova struggled to find her range.

As ever she scrapped but Safarova surged into the final eight from a 3-0 advantage in the second set to earn a last eight meeting with Garbine Muguruza.

World No.1 Serena Williams’ campaign is alive and kicking but only after surviving a scare against fellow American Sloane Stephens.

Williams hit 15 unforced errors and was broken three times by the world No.40 in the rapid first set as Stephens unleashed an armoury of exemplary groundstrokes.

The 2002 and 2013 Roland Garros champion predictably rallied and edged back into the contest by winning eight of the last ten points at 5-5 to force a decider.

The high quality tennis was flowing in the third as the two compatriots kept attacking but Williams went ahead with a brutally earned break to lead 3-2 and managed to hold off Stephens to keep an impressive record of 32 wins at Grand Slams after dropping the first set.

The end score: 1-6, 7-5, 6-3

Trio triumph

Over on the Men’s side and a mouth watering quarter-final has been established.

Last year’s final between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic will go ahead on Wednesday after the Spaniard defeated spirited youngster Jack Sock in four sets.

Nadal notched up his 70th Roland Garros win 6-3, 6-1, 5-7, 6-2 having dropping a set in the fourth round for the first time since he famously lost to Robin Soderling in 2009.

Sock was outplayed by Nadal’s lassoing forehand in the opening two sets but stunned the 28-year-old with a collection of counter attacking winners to steal the third set. Nadal regained his composure and rattled off the fourth set to take on Djokovic on his birthday!

The Serbian will aim to spoil Nadal’s party having cruised into the final eight by crushing Richard Gasquet 6-1, 6-2, 6-3. All eyes will be on their clash on Wednesday, with Djokovic winning five of the previous six meetings against Nadal.

‘"This will be the toughest quarter-final of my life,” admitted Nadal. Wheres Djokovic was keen to point out nine-time champion Nadal is always a threat in Paris. “Yes it does feel different that it’s a quarter-final but playing against him here is not like playing him anywhere else in the world.”

Meanwhile, Roger Federer returned to Philippe Chatrier to sweep aside Gael Monfils.

The pair were locked at a set a piece after as rain hit Sunday but the Swiss maestro appeared in a rush to get some rest and won 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 in an hour to draw a quarter-final clash with his countryman Stan Wawrinka on Tuesday.

“At this stage it’s about progressing in the tournament. I love to play my best plus progressing, I prefer moving on rather than playing my absolute best,” said the Swiss.

Debut delight

Having fallen in qualifying at Roland Garros in her previous two attempts, world No.93 Alison Van Uytvanck has stunned the tennis world by reaching the quarter-finals in Paris on her debut.

The 21-year-old stormed past world No.100 Andreea Mitu in emphatic fashion 6-1, 6-3 and will next face 24th seed Timea Bacsinszky, who fought back to down Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova 2-6, 6-0, 6-3.

Stat of the day

Van Uytvanck is the lowest ranked quarter-finalist at Roland Garros since 2005, when Sesil Karatantcheva made the last eight in 2005.

Other notable results

David Ferrer d. Marin Cilic 6-2, 6-2, 6-4

Sara Errani d. Julia Goerges 6-2, 6-2

Garbine Muguruza d. Flavia Pennetta 6-3, 6-4

Pick of the quotes

“I was pumped and really ready. I was excited to be there... I was just believing I could do it,” claimed Safarova after her win.

“I hope there is always an extra gear somewhere. Important right now is, I’m still physically fresh for the back end of the tournament, and, I’m pumped up to be in the quarters again,” added a satisfied Federer.

Sharapova made no excuses after relinquishing the title, "My opponent was at a much higher level, more consistent than I was, and that resulted in a bad day at the office.”

“The captain knows I have some problems on grass, but I will be on the team. I could be a good trump card, a joker,” said Monfils regarding the French Davis Cup tie in London next month.

“You can write what you want if it sells but this is not the match of the year. Matches of the year are finals, decisive ones,” insisted Nadal ahead of his Djokovic battle.

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