Sharapova continues French quest

Maria Sharapova of Russia reacts after winning her match against Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland...

Maria Sharapova of Russia reacts after winning her match against Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland during the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris May 30, 2011. (REUTERS/Thierry Roge)

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, Last Updated: 4:22 PM ET

PARIS, France -- Maria Sharapova of Russia continued her quest to complete a career Grand Slam with a straight-set win Monday in the fourth round of the French Open.

The seventh-seeded Sharapova fought back a couple of times in her match against Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska and pulled out a 7-6 (7-4), 7-5 victory over the 12th seed.

Also winning on Monday were fourth-seeded Victoria Azarenka of Belarus and China's Li Na. Azarenka eased past Russia's Ekaterina Makarova, 6-2, 6-3, while the sixth-seeded Li rallied for a 2-6, 6-1, 6-3 triumph over Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic.

Sharapova has claimed each of the other three Grand Slam tournaments once, winning at Wimbledon in 2004 and the U.S. Open in 2006 before capturing the Australian Open crown in 2008. She's never been to a final at the French Open, with a semifinal finish in 2007 her best result.

The 24-year-old Bradenton, Florida resident entered this tournament off her biggest win on clay, taking the title at the Italian Open earlier this month. Some of her biggest obstacles are out of the way with the early eliminations of the three top women's seeds in Caroline Wozniacki, Kim Clijsters and Vera Zvonareva.

It wasn't easy for Sharapova on Monday, as she fell behind 4-1 in the first set and had two break points against. She battled back to win the set in a tiebreaker, then went down 5-3 in the second.

Radwanska failed to convert a pair of set points in the ninth game, then opened a 40-0 lead while trying to serve it out in the 10th. Again, Sharapova dug deep and won the next five points to square the set at 5-5. She held for 6-5 and then closed it out with a break at love.

Next up for Sharapova will be Germany's Andrea Petkovic, who posted a 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 win over Russia's Maria Kirilenko on Monday. Sharapova has won two of the three lifetime meetings, with a split of two this year. Petkovic notched a 6-2, 6-3 win in the round of 16 at the Australian Open in January before Sharapova rallied for a three-set win in the Miami semifinals.

The highest remaining women's seed is Azarenka, who needed a mere 65 minutes to polish off Makarova and is into the French quarters for the second time in three years. She's never made it to a Grand Slam semifinal, but is playing the best tennis of her career with a pair of titles and a runner-up finish since the start of April.

"I'm in a different chapter in my career," said Azarenka, who beat Sharapova for the Miami title. "It will be a different quarterfinal for me. I'm feeling confident. It will be a great challenge."

Azarenka's quarterfinal foe will be Li, who earlier this year beat Azarenka en route to the Australian Open final, where she lost to Clijsters. Li has won three of the four lifetime meetings with Azarenka, including the 6-3, 6-3 triumph in the round of 16 in Melbourne.

"She's very strong," Azarenka said about Li. "You can never see emotions from her. But I'm really looking forward to get revenge from the Australian Open."

Li was on the ropes Monday against Kvitova, trailing 3-0 in the third set, but she regrouped and won six games in a row.

"Even I didn't believe I could come back from 3-0 down in the final set because she has a huge serve," Li remarked. "But I just tried to think it was only one break. If I came back I would still have a chance."

Kvitova, the ninth seed, hasn't been past the fourth round in any of her three visits to the French Open. She was a quarterfinalist at the Australian Open in January and last year advanced to the semifinals at Wimbledon.

Quarterfinal play begins Tuesday with a pair of matches involving the last two women's champs. Defending champion Francesca Schiavone of Italy will face Russia's Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and 2009 winner Svetlana Kuznetsova will take on the home crowd and Frenchwoman Marion Bartoli.


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