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Page last updated at 12:45 GMT, Saturday, 31 May 2008 13:45 UK
Roland Garros, Paris, 25 May-8 June




French Open: Sunday 25 May to Sunday 8 June
Coverage:
BBCi, Radio 5 Live and the BBC Sport website.

French Open

Third round result:

M SHARAPOVA Rus bt K KNAPP Ita

7-6 (7-4) 6-0

* Denotes server

LATEST ACTION (all times BST)

606: DEBATE
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By David Ornstein


1340: So there we have it, the world number one and top seed is through to the last 16. Next up is compatriot Dinara Safina with a quarter-final place at stake. The pair have met five times with Sharapova winning three.

Shara may not be in title-winning form and more obdurate opponents stand in her way, but a win is a win and the 21-year-old will have her sights firmly set on lifting the title to complete a career Grand Slam.

Au revoir.

"How she's going to be standing here in a week's time holding the trophy I don't know."
Sam Smith on BBCi

Sharapova 6-0 Knapp
The world number one confirms her place in round four with a second successive love service game on the Knapp serve. Knapp bows out of Roland Garros by smashing an overhead into the net. A sad way to finish.

Shara blows kisses to all four side and breaks into something of a smile but she will have to step up her game markedly if she is to reach the last eight.

Sharapova 5-0 Knapp
What happened to the Knapp of the first set? I'm not the first to point out that many of the spectators are now "having a Knapp" but they'd better wake up soon or they'll miss the finish.

Knapp is punished for an awful game. She's shrinking into her shell.

"Yes, it's the third round of a Grand Slam, but for Knapp it's simply a great learning experience. I think she's very conscious now of what's happening."
Sam Smith on BBCi

"Well, she came through it. Have to say though, Shazza has lived up to her nickname in Spain. We called Becks "Goldenballs" and we call Sharapova "Moltenballs"; "Molten" because she is pretty hot, and "Balls" because she once referred to herself as a cow on ice (on clay)."
Glacier_thief on 606
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Anyone else as confused as me? Can't guarantee I'll start referring to Shra as Moltenballs but we'll see. Maybe later in the week if she progresses here.

Sharapova 4-0 Knapp
It's all over now me thinks. Shara breaks to love.

Sharapova 3-0 Knapp
Another patchy Sharapova game sees her fire an ace wide past Knapp's forehand to reach 40-30. She closes out the game to open up a tasty lead.

Talking of tasty, the relatively small crowd on Court Phillipe Chatrier would suggest everyone is at lunch. I'm getting pretty hungry myself so come on, Maria, hurry up please!

Sharapova 2-0 Knapp
The longest game of the match by some distance shifts from one player to the other so often that members of the crowd are pictured falling asleep. But, fortunately, I was wide awake and saw Knapp drop what may prove to be the pivotal game.

Knapp hardly had to work her socks off to get the 40-15 but then a 16-shot rally won by Shara shifted the momentum. Shara made deuce and prevented Knapp from converting advantages on far too many occasions for me to remember.

Shara wasted one break point before converting the next. Knapp looks to be flagging. This could be done and dusted before long, people.

Sharapova 1-0 Knapp
The clay has been swept clean and it looks a lot smoother than Sharapova's game. The top seed looks comfortable to 40-15 but let's Knapp back in for deuce. A more experienced opponent would then have yanked up the pressure, but Knapp allowed Shara to stumble through.


FIRST SET

Sharapova 7-6 (7-4) Knapp
It looked as though Sharapova could have been about to concede her third set in as many matches when the Russian (with an amazing American accent) conceded a mini-break to fall 1-2 behind.

But she broke straight back and then pretty much cruised through the rest of the tie-break, wrapping up the set with a trademark cross-court backhand. Cue screams on delight from the young lady in navy blue.

"This is looking really tough for Sharapova. She needs to use all her experience and get through this. But then I doubt her chances against in form Safina."
amrtiastars on 606
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1250: We have a tie-break.

Sharapova 6-6 Knapp
Knapp takes the first point to get the crowd inside Court Phillipe Chatrier humming with excitement. A marathon rally end with Shara netting to fall 15-30 behind. But it's the unforced errors that are plaguing Knapp and after finding the net she then plays her backhand wide.

Knapp continues to ooze confidence, though, and at times Shara is hanging on by a thread. But it is such margins that separate the great from the good and Knapp twice goes long to gift Shara the game.

"It's been a very competitive set, that's what has impressed me most. There have been quite a few unforced errors - 15 from Sharapova, 17 from Knapp - but the Italian is doing well."
Sam Smith on BBCi

Sharapova 5-6 Knapp
I don't think the world number one takes lightly to being broken when serving for the set, do you?! But for all Shara's power and vocal exclamation, Knapp's sumptuous groundstrokes prove more than a match. Knapp kicks a serve wide to hand her game point but Shara digs in and a thunderous cross-court backhand brings up break point.

Shara goes wide and then that backhand and Shara finding the net puts the Italian a break away from the first set.

Sharapova 5-5 Knapp
Well, well, well. Knapp races to 40-0 up on the Shara serve. Shara's grunting suggests she really, really wants to close out the set in this game. But after working her way back to 30-40, double faults and we're back on level terms. Break back time.

"If Shazza gets through this she'll be facing Dinara Safina next. Does anyone remember that epic match between Shaz and Dinara a few years ago when Safina came from 1-5 down in the third to win? That has to be one of the best women's matches I've ever seen."
ALGG on 606
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Sharapova 5-4 Knapp:
It would be untrue to say Sharapova really turned up the heat but it was still a pressure game for Knapp... and she came through to 15. Cool, calm and collected as they say.

Knapp is ranked 38 in the world and seeded 32. What she lacks is experience and she is clearly gaining bag loads this afternoon.

Sharapova 5-3 Knapp
Today Sharapova has reminded me of a dormant volcano. No sign of activity for so long, albeit bubbling under the surface, and then exploding into life. Knapp's inexperience shines through as she leaves an overhead that drops in to send Shara to 40-15.

But credit where credit is due. She battles back to deuce and then all of a sudden has a break point, her first of the match. The Australian Open champion is not going to keel over that easily, however, and literally batters her way to the game. A fine finish from a fine player.

1212: Don't forget to get involved in the chat on 606 or text me on 81111. Ta very much.
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"When you are 40-0 up in a game you cannot make unforced errors, especially against Sharapova. Knapp will have learned a lesson then. Mentally, Knapp is not in Sharapova's league yet. I think she is a late developer in many respects."
Sam Smith on BBCi

Sharapova 4-3 Knapp
And a humdinger it was. Knapp raced to 40-0 before a moment of improvisation - Shara was beaten but stuck out her racket on the backhand side and Knapp then volleyed the return wide - turned the game on its head. Unforced errors and brute force earned Shara deuce before Knapp double faulted.

Would Shara capitalise this time? Absolutely. Knapp saved one break point but was well and truly beaten second time around as Shara's forcehand proved too powerful. P.S. I wrote "forcehand" purpose. Not funny, I know!

We have a break and now Shara will serve for 5-3.

Sharapova 3-3 Knapp
Shara storms through. Either Knapp took her foot off the gas for one game or Shara is beginning to find her touch. Game seven, as is so often the case, could be a humdinger.

"For me, Knapp is one of the most naturally talents players out there, but it may take her game longer to develop as a result."
Sam Smith on BBCi

Sharapova 2-3 Knapp
Knapp keeps her calm after going 0-15 down and her devilish backhand brings up 30-15. The Italian isn't initially made to pay for her first double fault of the match, because Sharapova again goes long, but then the Russia plays a cute drop shot to take earn deuce.

Knapp kicks her serve wide enough that Shara fails to beat the net but it is the latter who comes out on top from the rally of the match and Knapp then goes long to hand her break point. Knapp brings out the big forehand to save her bacon and, after several points are exchanged, Shara AGAIN goes long and Knapp keeps her nose in front.

"Knapp certainly hasn't gone out there with her autograph book today, there's a feeling in the locker room that anybody can beat anybody at this year's championships. It's not really what the top players want to hear."
Sam Smith on BBCi

Sharapova 2-2 Knapp I'm a massive Sharapova fan but I must confess it is Knapp who is playing all the tennis so far. A third Sharapova double fault sends Knapp 0-15 and the world number one only keeps in touch by default, as Knapp spoils her winners with a series of unforced errors.

In fairness to Shara, she closes out with a lovely forehand pass down the line.

Sharapova 1-2 Knapp
Wow. You won't see a more comprehensive love service game than that. To be fair, if you're reading this you probably won't be watching at all. But you get the gist.

Knapp, a 20-year-old from Lutago, made her Grand Slam debut at the 2007 French Open and she is marking the one-year anniversary with an impressive start against the most daunting opponent (rankings-wise) on the Tour.

Sharapova 1-1 Knapp
Some lovely groundstrokes take the 21-year-old top seed to 40-0 but then comes her 28th double fault of the tournament. Knapp, a straight sets winner in round one and two, has Shara chasing side to side and then another double brings her to deuce.

Knapp's powerhouse of a backhand and fairly decent forehand force an advantage when Shara goes long. Points are exchanged until Shara forced her way through when Knapp does a Shara and goes long for the first time today.

1145: Now, the Sharapova serve. She sent down 17 double faults against Rodina and her problems continued against Beth Mattek before she prevailed 6-2 3-6 6-2.

Sharapova 0-1 Knapp
The first thing to become apparent is the power Knapp packs in her serve. Shara is standing a couple of feet behind the baseline on her opponent's first serve and twice goes long with her return as Knapp moves to 40-30. At the end of an error-strewn game, Knapp plays a backhand cross-court winner to take a 1-0 lead.

1137: Here we go. As predicted, Knapp to serve.

1135: It's been brought to my attention that this is Sharapova's fourth consecutive day on court. She was almost sent packing from Roland Garros on Wednesday when fellow Russian Evgeniya Rodina wasted three break points at 4-3 in the deciding set.

1130: The umpire has just tossed the coin. It looked to me as though Sharapova called correctly and she appeared to offer Knapp the chance to serve first. I could be wrong so I'll bring clarity to the situation asap.

The players are warming up. Sharapova is decked in the navy blue outfit she has been wearing all tournament and Knapp a pink and white number. The Italian looks a tad nervous.

1128: Day seven of the French Open is upon us. Truth be told, it got under way some time ago and Svetlana Kuznetsova has already booked her place in the last 16 with a 6-2 6-1 victory over Nadia Petrova.

Next up on Court Phillipe Chatrier... world number one Maria Sharapova.

Let's not beat around the bush - Sharapova has looked anything like a potential French Open champion thus far and she could be set for a tough ride against little-known Italian Karin Knapp.

We're set for an intriguing contest and I'm here to guide you through proceedings.




see also
French Open women's live scores
23 May 08 |  Tennis
French Open men's live scores
23 May 08 |  Tennis
Gritty Sharapova survives scare
28 May 08 |  Tennis


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