Safina Stumbles, Sharapova Spanked at French Open
by Staff | June 2nd, 2009, 6:23 pm

It looked more like a joke when the foot-taller Maria Sharapova came to the net to shake hands with the 5-foot-3 Dominika Cibulkova, but it was no laughing matter for the lanky former No. 1 Russian, who was handed a 6-0, 6-2 slice of humble pie by the diminutive Slovak on Tuesday at Roland Garros.
Sharapova was noticeably rusty in only her second tournament of the year after shoulder surgery, yet reached the French Open quarterfinals with some gutsy displays.

“Today I was playing really solid. Not a lot of errors. I knew if I played well I’d have a chance,” Cibulkova said. “When I was up 6-0, 5-0 and 40-30, I realized I could beat Maria Sharapova 6-0, 6-0 and go to the semifinals in a Grand Slam. I got shocked a little bit.”

It was the first appearance in a Slam quarterfinal for the Slovak. For Sharapova it was an unexpected run after injury on her worst surface, where her movement remains a liability.

“She played really solid and made me hit a lot of balls, and I came up short today,” Sharapova said. “I was very appreciative of the way the crowd was rooting for me, asking for me to fight and keep working to find a way to turn things around.”

World No. 1 Dinara Safina was forced to fight back on Tuesday in a battle against No. 9 seed Victoria Azarenka, a winner of three WTA Tour titles this year, winning 1-6, 6-4, 6-2.

“She was playing well, and I was playing exactly into her zone. Then I started to fight, point by point,” Safina said. “If I didn’t fight in the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam as No. 1 in the world, I wouldn’t deserve that spot. I didn’t play my game today but I fought until the end.”

Wednesday quarterfinal play at Roland Garros will feature No. 2 seed Serena Williams against No. 7 Svetlana Kuznetsova, and No. 30 Samantha Stosur against unseeded Sorana Cirstea.

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10 Comments for Safina Stumbles, Sharapova Spanked at French Open

zola Says:

Easy on Sharapova!
I think she has done great considering she was out of competition for about 10 months. I think all her matches in RG this year were played in 3 sets.

I am glad her shoulder is better and I hope she will come back stronger in Wimbledon.

Safina is just great. I am glad she was tested before the final. She is getting stronger mentally. Hope she can win the whole thing!

Good luck to Sam Stosur for her match tomorrow. I don’t know her opponent. And it is hard to pick between Serena and Kuzzy. I go with Serena! Vamos Serena!

jane Says:

Safina is hilarious – I mean in a totally serious and self-punishing way. She’s so very hard on herself. Is this a Russian thing? Just wondering. She wins and she’s “not happy with [her] game today.” This is a girl who wants to win commandingly. She says she wants to “dominate from the first point”. But in the end, she’s happy about taking “a revenge” on Azarenka, to whom she lost once this year. LOL. I hope at some point she gets to cut loose a little. Not to the detriment of her tennis, but for her soul.

zola Says:

Dinara said once that her brother gave an advice to her to do everything he did , but the reverse!
and I think it is working.

I remember when she won her first match 60 60, her coach was not happy with her because she did not hit hard enough.

I love her pressers. She is a breath of fresh air. I really want her to win this.

steve Says:

It looks like we’ll be getting the showdown everyone’s been talking about: Safina vs. Serena, and may the true no. 1 win!

zola Says:

***It looks like we’ll be getting the showdown everyone’s been talking about: Safina vs. Serena, and may the true no. 1 win!


that’s a good one!

Tom Foober Says:


Sharapova showed heart in her defeat, not only on the court but off. Gave credit to the youngster who fell on the court with joy.

Serena vs. Safina, here we go again:}

grendel Says:

jane, we exchanged slightly on this on t’other thread. I think you’ve got it right with the Russian thing. But the Russian soul is many faceted….Safina can be very engaging just like her brother, only a softer version. She is under considerable pressure, I suspect, to match her brother’s deeds – family stuff is pretty impenetrable, but we can infer a little.

But overall, Safina strikes me as very rounded, and a very nice person, too. She talks with real consideration of other players,but not the usual bland pr stuff. Azarenka, on court, sometimes looks quite mad and on the point of implosion. She certainly doesn’t seem to be enjoying herself out there. What a player, though. A future #1 for sure. Safina’s talent seems much more limited – so she is obliged to wring the absolute most out of what she has.

Safina has been admirably restrained in the face of Serena’s taunts (“we all know who the real number one is. Quite frankly, I’m the best in the world”).

There’s something naive about Serena so you don’t take her bragging to heart, it’s often very funny, and, oddly, sometimes true. A Williams/Safina final would have a nice little edge to it….

ikabaru Says:

sharapova has been practising really hard at img academy, i have seen her there,so dont fel sorry for her.

jane Says:

Serena is out! Kuz finally held tough in a match with her. Good on her Russian soul. LOL. Seriously I am happy for her as she’s been on the losing end a lot in that match up.

grendel, the funny thing about Azarenka is that in her pressers she is like the calmest thing ever. Nothing like the implosive theatrics on the court. But I agree; she is SO hungry. She’ll go to the top. She’s got the game to go with the hunger, and a scream to match,

I like Safina; you’re right in that she’s very real. No phoney press face or court face – just what she’s really feeling, it seems.

zola Says:

Tom Foober,

I used not to like Sharapova. but she always acknowledges her opponent and does not make excuses. That attitude won me over. If only there was a cure for that loud shriek. :)
But she is a fighter and I am happy she is back. Carillo said she was very tired but her shoulder is fine. So I think it is just a fitness issue and not the injury and I am glad to hear that.

serna out! Wow kuzzy!
and I am ver happy for Sam. I am not sure if she can pass Safina.

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