Four players moved into the quarterfinals on Monday amidst the decimated women’s field that is the 2011 French Open.
The clay-averse Li Na became the first Chinese player in the Open Era to reach the French Open quarterfinals when the No. 6 seed defeated No. 9 Petra Kvitova 2-6, 6-1, 6-3.
“I don’t like claycourts, but I’m in the quarterfinals here, so I can’t say that anymore,” said Li, who was down a break in the third. “In China we have many hardcourts. But for a professional player, if you don’t like the air or weather, you still have to play the match.”
Or the Chinese government will imprison you.
Li will next face No. 4 seed Victoria Azarenka, who advanced easily 6-2, 6-3 over unseeded Russian Ekaterina Makarova.
Azarenka, who says she has turned a corner from her formal emotional and mental meltdown ways, has never surpassed the quarters at a Slam.
“I’m in a different chapter in my career,” Azarenka said. “It will be a different quarterfinal for me. I’m feeling confident. It will be a great challenge.”
The victories went according to seeding in the remaining matches as No. 7 Maria Sharapova navigated a tough 7-6(4), 7-5 win over No. 12 Aggie Radwanska, and No. 15 Andrea “Do the Petko” Petkovic outlasted and out-danced No. 25 Maria Kirilenko 6-2, 2-6, 6-4.
Sharapova and Radwanska both played quality tennis, with winners outnumbering their unforced errors.
“I played smart when I needed to be smart and was patient at the right times,” Sharapova said. “This tournament is one I’ve always said would be the most challenging for me to win, but I’ve always worked really hard on trying to get myself prepared as well as I could for it, physically and mentally, knowing sometimes you have to be more patient than in points in other tournaments.”
Petkovic looked in control in the third set against Kirilenko, up a break, but was forced to quell a fight-back from the Russian.
“I’ve been tested in the past four matches and today was the toughest of them all,” Petkovic said. “I had two or three games where I really lost control of my mental structure, my mental toughness. I’m really happy I gained it back and was able to strike back and lift my game to another level to hit the ball again.”
Petkovic and Sharapova will next square off.
“She’s a tough opponent and she’s also quite good on this surface,” Sharapova said. “Every match for me is different. I’ll look back at a few things that helped me, or maybe changed things around if I was down. I lost that first set in Miami, so maybe I’ll look back at those things there. But it’s really a new match.”
On tap Tuesday at Roland Garros are (11) Marion Bartoli vs. (13) Svetlana Kuznetsova, and (5) Francesca Schiavone vs. (14) Anastasia Pavlyucheckova.
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