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French Open

Safina shocks Paris top seed Sharapova

  • Story Highlights
  • Top-seeded Maria Sharapova was a shock casualty at the French Open
  • World No. 1 crashed 6-7 7-6 6-2 against fellow Russian Dinara Safina
  • Safina, the 13th seed, faces another Russian Elena Dementieva in last 8
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PARIS, France -- Top-seeded Maria Sharapova was a shock casualty at the French Open on Monday when she crashed 6-7 7-6 6-2 against fellow Russian Dinara Safina in Paris.

Ecstasy: Safina releases her emotions after her comeback win over Maria Sharapova in the French Open last 16.

Bidding for the only Grand Slam title she has yet to win, new world No. 1 Sharapova twice blew big leads in the second set.

Sharapova's customary screeches reached maximum volume as the match slipped away, and the noise seemed to annoy fans.

They whistled and booed Sharapova as she left Court Suzanne Lenglen after the match, and she didn't acknowledge the crowd.

"I can't please everyone. It's not in my job description," she said. "I'm an athlete, and I go out there and fight my heart out. They paid the ticket to watch me, so they must appreciate me on some level, right?"

Sharapova won five consecutive games in the second set to go ahead 5-2, and held a match point serving in the next game. She also led 5-2 in the second tiebreaker before losing five consecutive points, then unraveled down the stretch, losing the final four games and 10 of the last 12 points.

It was the latest setback for Sharapova on clay, her least-favorite surface. "On this stuff, things happen in a hurry," she said.

"It was all in her hands," Safina said. "Then suddenly it changed."

Safina, the younger sister of two-time Grand Slam champion Marat Safin, duplicated her upset of Sharapova in the fourth round at Roland Garros in 2006.

She received a congratulatory text from her brother and said she hopes to join him as the winner of a major title.

"A dream of all our family," she said. "Once we do this, we can put the racket on the wall and say we did everything we could. But to get to his level, I still have to work a little bit harder."

The No. 13-seeded Safina's next opponent will be No. 7 Elena Dementieva, who won another all-Russian matchup against No. 11 Vera Zvonareva, 6-4 1-6 6-2.

Trailing Sharapova 5-3 in the second set, Safina saved match point with a backhand winner, then broke two points later when Sharapova pushed a forehand wide. In the second tiebreaker, Sharapova double-faulted for 5-4 and then hit three errant backhands.

That evened the match, but the momentum favored Safina. Sharapova's customary squeals during rallies became more intense during the sixth game of the final set, and she screamed at herself after points.

"Just trying to pump myself up," she said. "I was trying to get angry about something. I just started playing tentatively."

She erased three break points before conceding the game with a forehand into the net. That gave Safina a 4-2 lead, and she closed out the victory, falling to her knees with glee when Sharapova socked a wild forehand on match point.

It was latest in a series of memorable victories over the past month for Safina. She was the last player to beat recently retired Justine Henin, a four-time French Open champion. That upset came on clay in early May at Berlin, where Safina went on to win the biggest title of her career.

"She's a really tough opponent on this surface," Sharapova said. "I came very close, but it didn't go my way for some reason."

In other fourth round ties, Russian fourth seed Svetlana Kuznetsova was leading Belarussian 16th seed Victoria Azarenka 6-2 2-2 while Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic and Estonia's Kaia Kanepi were 3-6 6-3 when play was halted.

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