Sharapova shows no mercy in reaching 4th round - NBC Sports

Sharapova shows no mercy in reaching 4th round
American Lepchenko stuns No. 10 seed Schiavone to advance
AFP - Getty Images
Maria Sharapova celebrates after routing China's Peng Shuai 6-2, 6-1 on Saturday to reach the fourth round of the French Open.
June 2, 2012, 5:06 pm

If love means never having to say you're sorry, what about 6-love?

Depends which side of the French Open scoreboard you're on, apparently.

Maria Sharapova feels not a shred of remorse about the way she's been finishing off opponents quickly - a total of five games lost through three matches at Roland Garros this year, including a 6-0, 6-0 win in the first round.

After a 6-2, 6-1 victory over No. 28 Peng Shuai put her in the fourth round, Sharapova was asked whether any part of her feels bad for someone paying a lot of money to watch an hour or so of tennis.

"The last thing that's on my mind when I'm going out on court is thinking about who paid for a ticket and how long they're going to watch my match for," said Sharapova, who is trying to complete a career Grand Slam by winning her first French Open championship. "I mean, I'm not sure if that's selfish or not, but my job is to go out on the court and to try to win. Whether it's 6-0, 6-0, whether it's a tough three-set match, you're trying to do what you have to do."

Sharapova's section of the draw seems to be getting a bit easier by the hour.

One potential quarterfinal opponent, 13-time major champion Serena Williams, lost in the first round. Another, former No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki, exited 6-1, 6-7 (3), 6-3 against No. 23 Kaia Kanepi of Estonia. And a third, No. 25 Julie Goerges of Germany, was beaten 7-6 (5), 2-6, 6-2 by 88th-ranked Arantxa Rus of the Netherlands.

Wozniacki got into a couple of extended arguments over line calls with chair umpire Poncho Ayala, including about a second-set shot by Kanepi that landed near the baseline to earn a service break for the Estonian.

"How can you sit there and be so arrogant? Have you gone to school?" Wozniacki said to Ayala, drawing boos from spectators.

At her postmatch news conference, Wozniacki said: "When the ball is clearly out, I don't think there should be anything to argue about. You know, if they cannot see, they should have other umpires on the lines or (use replay technology) on these courts. It's a disgrace that mistakes like this are made."

Not only are Williams, Wozniacki and Goerges out of the way, but in the fourth round, Sharapova gets to face 44th-ranked Klara Zakopalova of the Czech Republic, who eliminated No. 22 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia 6-3, 7-5.

Also in Sharapova's half of the field, No. 12 Francesca Schiavone, the 2010 French Open champion, was a 3-6, 6-3, 8-6 loser against Varvara Lepchenko, who joined 19-year-old Sloane Stephens to give the United States two unseeded women in the fourth round of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time in 10 years.

Unseeded and ranked only 63rd, Lepchenko gutted out a 3-hour, 2-minute win over the 12th-seeded Schiavone, who also was last year's runner-up at Roland Garros.

"Unexpected," said the 26-year-old Lepchenko, never before past a Grand Slam's second round, let alone third. "I mean, I didn't even expect it. I mean, I just worked hard and tried to believe in myself. I'm a fighter ... in real life and on the tennis court."

She was born in Uzbekistan's capital, Tashkent, then moved with her father and sister to Florida more than a decade ago, granted political asylum so she could leave the Central Asian country to the north of Afghanistan that the U.S. government has pressed to improve its human rights record. Lepchenko's mother didn't join the rest of the family until four years later.

"There was no future for me, no future for my career," Lepchenko said of her birthplace. "I wouldn't be able to make it as far as I am right now if I was back in Uzbekistan."

In 2003, Lepchenko was befriended by a woman who arranged housing for players at a lower-tier tournament in Pennsylvania.

"Me and my dad, we didn't have enough money to rent an apartment, so we were struggling, going from one place to another. She said, `Listen, I know you guys are all the time on the road. If you ever need a place to stay, you can come and stay with me.' Because she had a huge house and had, like, a lot of room in it," Lepchenko recounted. "So ... she became like my mom."

That's how Lepchenko wound up in Allentown.

"I started to do better and started to make more money," she continued, "and I was able to rent an apartment."

Lepchenko, who became a U.S. citizen in September, trains in New York with U.S. Tennis Association coaches at the site of the U.S. Open.

"I don't think it's the right way to look at things to see somebody lose and say, 'Oh, well, now the draw is open.' ... You can't go about playing a Grand Slam like that," Sharapova said. "You've got to be ready to face your toughest opponents from the first round, on. And if you're not ready, then you should probably not be here."

For years, she traveled to tournaments with her father. Now he's at home in Florida, taking care of Sharapova's dog, so it's Mom's turn to be on the road.

Dad still likes to offer tennis advice from afar, but Sharapova isn't a fan of his texting skills.

"He can't text. It's useless. He writes half-Russian, half-English. The words are all mixed up, misspelled. I just ask him to call me. And I try to Skype with him, and that's a nightmare because he doesn't know, like, how to answer. It's horrible," she said with a hearty laugh.

"But I talk with him every day, mainly just to find out if my dog is still alive."

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