• Sharapova, Djokovic enter French Open QF

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    PARIS: Maria Sharapova stayed on course for a second French Open title with a battling 3-6, 6-4, 6-0 fourth round win over Australia’s Samantha Stosur on Sunday (Monday in Manila).

    Stosur, the losing finalist in Paris in 2010, the year before she won her only major to date at the US Open, dominated the first set with two breaks of serve.

    But seventh seed Sharapova steadied the ship to lead 2-0 at the start of the second before Stosur levelled at 2-2.

    The ninth game proved to be crucial as Sharapova fired down two stunning winners to break again and then held serve to level the match.

    The Russian, who won the French Open in 2012 to complete a sweep of all four Grand Slam titles, grabbed another break to open the decider and with the Stosur challenge visibly wilting, she turned on the power to reach her third straight quarter-final in Paris.

    Sharapova will next play unseeded Spaniard Garbine Muguruzu who defeated French wildcard Pauline Parmentier 6-4, 6-2 for a place in the semifinals.

    Novak Djokovic swept into the quarterfinals with a one-sided 6-1, 6-4, 6-1 win over top home hope Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

    The second seed, seeking in Paris to become just the eighth man in history to complete the career Grand Slam, hardly broke sweat as Tsonga struggled in vain to find his length and timing.

    Meanwhile, Roger Federer surveyed the wreckage of his worst French Open in 10 years and despite his optimism that a record eighth Wimbledon title is within his grasp, history and time are conspiring against him.

    In the immediate aftermath of his 6-7 (5/7), 7-6 (7/3), 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 defeat to Ernests Gulbis, which was his earliest loss in Paris since 2004 when he was demolished in the third round by Gustavo Kuerten, Federer was talking a good game if not necessarily playing one.

    Victory on Sunday would have put him into a record 42nd Grand Slam quarterfinals and 10th in a row in Paris.

    Instead, it was the wild-haired, outspoken Gulbis, seven years his junior, who had become the latest likely lad to puncture the Swiss legend.

    “For every match you can’t necessarily explain why you lost. Sometimes you’re more disappointed; sometimes less,” said Federer whose appearances in Paris are yielding steadily diminishing returns.

    Runner-up in 2011, he was a semifinalist in 2012 and was stopped at the quarter-finals last year before Gulbis added further insult with a fourth round exit on Sunday.

    AFP

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