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Sharapova out, Federer hot at French Open
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Top seed Maria Sharapova was shown the exit door at the French Open yesterday, when she lost to Russian compatriot Dinara Safina in the fourth round.

The 13th seed Safina, younger sister of former men's world No. 1 Marat Safin, won 6-7 (6), 7-6 (5), 6-2 in two hours and 52 minutes.

Also, Roger Federer became a French Open quarterfinalist, the 16th consecutive grand slam tournament in which he's reached that stage.

The top-ranked Federer beat Julien Benneteau 6-4, 7-5, 7-5 in Paris yesterday, despite a couple of missteps along the way. Federer was broken while serving for each of the first two sets before closing them out.

Federer's quarterfinal opponent is 24th-seeded Fernando Gonzalez, who eliminated Robby Ginepri of the United States 7-6 (4), 6-3, 6-1. Federer beat Gonzalez in the 2007 Australian Open final for one of his 12 grand slam titles, two away from Pete Sampras' career record.

The French Open is the only major championship Federer hasn't won. He lost in the 2005 semifinals, and the 2006 and 2007 finals - each time to Rafael Nadal.

Earlier, Elena Dementieva advanced to the quarterfinals, winning five consecutive games to start the final set and beating fellow Russian Vera Zvonareva 6-4, 1-6, 6-2.

For the No. 7-seeded Dementieva, it's the best showing at Roland Garros since she was runner-up to champion Anastasia Myskina in 2004. Dementieva closed out the victory by smacking a backhand winner, then celebrated with a whirling leap and a yelp.

"I do believe in myself," Dementieva said. "I think I'm not a favorite to win the whole thing, but just really enjoy what I'm doing right now."

The 11th-seeded Zvonareva committed 41 unforced errors and grew increasingly frustrated as the final set slipped away. After falling behind 0-3, she pounded the clay with her racket three times - forehand, backhand and forehand.

Dementieva and Zvonareva were among five Russians in the last 16.

Ginepri left Paris with considerable consolation: He was the last American to lose at the French Open.

Conquering an aversion to clay common among Americans, Ginepri became the first US man to reach the fourth round at Roland Garros since Andre Agassi in 2003. He hung with Gonzalez until losing serve twice in a row late in the second set.

The Chilean benefited from a wider variety of shotmaking than Ginepri, mixing drop shots and slices with a penetrating forehand, and looked more comfortable with his footwork on the dirt.

Gonzalez improved to 16-0 this year on clay, although he withdrew before the third round in Rome because of a hamstring injury.

At No. 88, Ginepri was the lowest-ranked player left in the men's draw. He began the tournament with an 0-5 record at Roland Garros, and by winning three matches, he clinched a berth on the US Olympic team.

There was more disappointment for the Americans as the world No. 1 pair and top seeds Mike and Bob Bryan were dumped by Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay and Peruvian Luis Horna in the quarterfinals.

The unseeded duo emerging the winners in a three-set marathon 6-3, 5-7, 7-6 (1).

(Agencies via Shanghai Daily June 3, 2008)

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