PARIS – Last year’s finalists Francesca Schiavone and Li Na headed in opposite directions at the French Open on Saturday when the Italian was knocked out in the third round and the Chinese fought her way through to the last 16 after a tough win.
Schiavone, the Roland Garros winner in 2010 and runner-up to Li last year, was unlucky to run into battling American Varvara Lepchenko for the second time in a month. Lepchenko, who beat the world number 12 on Madrid’s new blue clay four weeks ago, struck again, defeating Schiavone 3-6 6-3 8-6 in the midday sun on Court One.
Seventh seed Li had to fight hard against world number 36 Christina McHale of the United States before winning 3-6 6-2 6-1 and setting up a fourth-round match against Kazakh qualifier Yaroslava Schedova.
Rafa Nadal continued his serene progress toward a record seventh men’s French title with another straight-sets win in the day’s final match.
The defending champion defeated Argentine qualifier Eduardo Schwank 6-1 6-3 6-4 in two hours 16 minutes.
The Spaniard, who celebrates his 26th birthday on Sunday, will play his friend and frequent practice partner Juan Monaco in the last 16 after the Argentine beat Canadian 19th seed Milos Raonic 6-7 6-3 6-7 6-3 6-4.
“We know each other very well, we practice very often together, so we both know what we are going to try to do,” Nadal told a news conference.
While her rivals for the women’s title toiled, second seed Maria Sharapova swept past Peng Shuai of China 6-2 6-1 and has now spent seven minutes less on court in three matches than Schiavone and Lepchenko did in their single encounter.
Youzhny says ‘Sorry!’
On a hot day at Roland Garros, Russian Mikhail Youzhny melted hearts when he scrawled the word “SORRY!” in the clay with the toe of his shoe after winning only six points in the first eight games of a three-set thrashing by Spanish sixth seed David Ferrer.
“I just wanted to say sorry to the fans because they came to see a beautiful match but I simply could not give them that,” Youzhny told Russian reporters after the 6-0 6-2 6-2 defeat.
Fourth seed Andy Murray, who came close to withdrawing from his second-round match with a back problem on Thursday, looked a new man when he easily beat Colombia’s Santiago Giraldo 6-3 6-4 6-4 to reach the last 16.
The Briton will now play 17th seed Richard Gasquet, who beat 34-year-old German Tommy Haas – a qualifier here – 6-7 6-3 6-0 6-0.
Li, who last year became the first player from an Asian nation to win a grand-slam singles title, struggled with her serve at the start and blamed herself for being too passive. “In the first set I was always following what she did, feeling like she was the champion on the court,” Li said. “She is a very dangerous player; I was happy I could win.”R Soft Web Hosting