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Page last updated at 15:56 GMT, Monday, 2 June 2008 16:56 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

Fourth round result:

M SHARAPOVA (Rus) lost to D SAFINA (Rus)

7-6 6-7 2-6

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By Tom Fordyce

THIRD SET:

Sharapova 2-6 Safina
Double-fault from Shara on her first serve, another error at 0-30 and Safina has three match points. Shara saves one with a nerveless drop-shot but goes wide and long with a forehand on the next, and it's all over. What a comeback! Safina was a set, 5-2 and a match point down, and then 5-2 down in the second-set tie-break, but she's fought back to put out the world number one.

Dementieva up next for her; a brutal wrestlefest against the Safins for me. How did it come to this?

From David in Edinburgh on text: "Get your arm ready. Marat just called your boss."

From Trevor in Sandhurst on text: "Tom, Asda are running a special on spinach at the moment."

Sharapova 2-5 Safina
Five games on the bounce now for Safina, and there was never a chance of her losing that game. Mexican waves breaking out around the stands. Mama Safin will splinter my fingers, won't she?

Sharapova 2-4 Safina
Two break points on the Shara serve as her ball-toss goes awry - but somehow she hangs on, a gambler's forehand down the line clawing her back to deuce. As scream matches shriek, Shara saves another break point after an epic baseline rally but concedes another opening after netting a deep forehand reply. When Saffa blasts a backhand return into the corner, Sharapova can only thrash feebly back into the net - and Safina has the break. Marat's going to break my wrist, isn't he?

Sharapova 2-3 Safina
And now a hold to love from Safina. Sharapova's now making more unforced errors - 35 in the match so far, compared to 31 from her opponent. Shara's only landing 60% of her first serves too in this deciding set, while Safina's up at 80%. Hmmm.

Sharapova 2-2 Safina
Every point is now a brutal slugfest. Shara is hauled back to 30-30 but bullets a backhand down the line to drag herself level. Genuine concerns from your correspondent about the imminence of an arm-wrestle against Russia's angriest sporting family.

Sharapova 1-2 Safina
A straightforward hold to 15 in double-quick time and Safina suddenly has the upper hand. Bright sunshine on Court Suzanne Lenglen, and the crowd are right behind the no.13 seed.

Sharapova 1-1 Safina
Shara looks understandably tired when she hooks a backhand well wide to go 0-30 down , and Safina then wallops a big forehand for three breaks points. She takes the first and we're back on level terms. Hold back on those household chores - we could be here for a while yet.

Sharapova 1-0 Safina
As the sun pops out for the first time all day, Safina crashes down two boomer first serves to go to 40-0. The radar then goes wonky as she smacks two serves and two forehands wide to go to break point down, and with Shara scrambling she pings a volley way out. Absolute steal for Shara.

SECOND SET:

Sharapova 6-7 Safina
At 5-2 in the tie-break to Shara and with Safina conceding unforced errors at the key times, it looks to be all over - but then Saffa turns on the power just as Shara wobbles woefully. Five points on the bounce for Safina, the last with Sharapova drifting another slice backhand out, and the match is level. Remarkable scenes.

Roger Federer's also through, seeing off Julien Benneteau in straight sets 6-4 7-5 7-5. Easy peas.

Sharapova 6-6 Safina
And she does, battling now with eyes ablaze and self-belief oozing out of her. Shara has a great chance at 30-30 but wafts an attempted backhand slice wide with the court at her mercy, and we're into another tie-break. Goodness.

Sharapova 6-5 Safina
Suddenly the crowd is awake and roaring. Safina finally gets the drop-shot out of her locker to get to deuce, but Shara clings on with squealing determination to get an elegant nose in front. Saffa must hold to stay in the match.

Sharapova 5-5 Safina
What have I said? I could be arm-wrestling the entire Safin crew the way this is going. Safina holds to 15 with a steely mix of power and accuracy and Shara looks angrily perturbed. The Shriek reaches braking-car levels.

Sharapova 5-4 Safina
Hold on a second - this wasn't part of the plan. Safina blazes away like Butch Cassidy and Sundance, saves match point with a searing backhand and wrestles back the break with another thumping why-not winner. We're back on serve...

Sharapova 5-3 Safina
A brief rage against the dying of the light from Safina. Two super winners belie the dismal performance of the previous five games.

Sharapova 5-2 Safina
And her mother too. Shara races through her service game, Safina thwacks her racquet against her own shoe and the crowd begin to gather up their belongings.

Sharapova 4-2 Safina
Brilliant again from Shara, taking advantage of Saffa's sludginess around the court to drive away more lusty winners. If Safina turns this one around now I'll arm-wrestle her brother.

Sharapova 3-2 Safina
Three games on the bounce from the world number one. She drives Saffa this way and that, the Shara Squeak becoming the Shara Shriek as she does so, and Safina is on the ropes. Fed a break up in the third on court Philippe Chatrier.

Sharapova 2-2 Safina
Carumba - Shara's come out in a mood of righteous anger, and wrenches the break back with a series of brutal forehands. Saffa seems to be tortured by the same mental demons as brother Marat, and screams to the cloudy heavens as the set draws level.

Sharapova 1-2 Safina
Nice movement from Shara. She begins with a lame flopper of a double-fault but then runs down an angled drop-shot and whips away an angled cross-court winner to fire up her engines. Saffa goes long with a panicked forehand and Shara's on the board.

Sharapova 0-2 Safina
Shara comes out of the traps like a ravenous greyhound, creaming two fizzing backhands down the line to set up a break point. Saffa saves with a booming first serve, forces an error with another biggie and holds when Shara mis-hits a forehand into the middle of the net. Fed's two sets up against Benneteau now, by the way.

1510: Here they come, trotting out of the concrete bowels at Roland Garros. Big cheers from the bored spectateurs. Time for a ten-minute warm-up.

1454: This is more like it - the rain has eased away, and the covers have been hauled off. Eager young groundstaff are dragging surface-smoothers across the battered court. Looking good for a resumption in the nearness.

From Derek in Glasgow on text: "I have eaten my light snack, but I'm almost ready for dinner now. Any chance of an update?" 1440: It's still coming down from a Parisien sky the colour of a watery Pastis. There'll be no play before 1500 - official.

1342: Alas - the rain is a touch heavier, and with fringes getting bedraggled the two Russians gallop off to the locker-room. Green covers are hauled across the orange court. Looks like we'll be off for at least 10 minutes - grab yourself a light snack and I'll keep you posted.

Sharapova 0-1 Safina
That's the start Safina needed - a sleepy series of Shara serves, and the break is gone as a mis-hit forehand booms long. Balls getting very heavy with all the moisture out there, and we could have a slug-fest on our hands here.

FIRST SET:

Sharapova 7-6 Safina
Errors from both players as the sogginess spreads on Court Suzanne Lenglen. Shara misses a big chance on her forehand as Safina begins to drop shorter and shorter, but then gets the mini-break back as Safina double-faults at 4-3. Two howitzer forehands give Saffa two set points but Shara fights back brilliantly, a forehand drop-shot hurting Safina so much that she dashes her racquet to the floor a la Big Bro. When a backhand lob drifts wide, Shara has the set - and you wonder now how much Dinara has left in the tank.

Sharapova 6-6 Safina
Cheeky little forehand drop-shot from Sharapova to go to 40-0, and when Safina wafts wide on her backhand, we're into the tie-break. Rain just on the cusp of being heavy enough to force a dash indoors.

Sharapova 5-6 Safina
Two big first serves from 30-15 from Saffa see her home, and she makes a noise like a power-saw sparking up as Shara's netted return concludes the game. Fed a break up in the second set v Benneteau; rain now a little heavier.

Sharapova 5-5 Safina
Absolute stinker of a first serve from Sharapova - a frame-boomer which sails straight into the crowd without touching clay. She allows herself a glimpse of a smile and then gets her head straight to hold with contrasting accuracy.

Sharapova 4-5 Safina
How do you solve a problem like Maria? By forcing her deeper and mixing things up, if that game's anything to go by. Saffa holds to go within a game of the first set. Splattering of rain in the air.

Sharapova 4-4 Safina
Calamitous serving from Sharapova. Two big misses down the middle leave her canting at 0-40. Safina blows the first break point with an adrenaline backhand blast, slaps a casual forehand long on the second and is then pummelled by three blistering forehands on the third. Saffa's chugging round court with the easy elegance of a coal barge but Shara continues to make sloppy errors - and when a loopy forehand goes long, the break is taken back.

Elsewhere, Britsh junior Dan Evans, who has shown the same teenage promise as early period McFly, has just beaten the splendidly-named Juan Velazquez-Valenzuela of Argentina 6-7 6-2 6-4 in the boys' singles.

Sharapova 4-3 Safina
Now it's Saffa's turn to struggle on her serve. A double-fault of her own gives Shara a sniff of a chance; a series of pounding forehands leave Safina stranded out wide, and Shara creams a backhand cross-court to snatch the first break. Across the way, Federer's taken the first set against Benneteau - he lost his break at 5-3 but then broke his French opponent back with immediate anger.

Sharapova 3-3 Safina
Super whipped forehand return down the line from Saffa brings up the first break point of the match, only for a lusty backhand long to blow it. A run of double-faults brings another, but this time Saffa goes wide with a forehand and then clatters another out. Missed opportunity. Shara Squeak to poked pig levels.

Sharapova 2-3 Safina
If you've not seen much of Safina before, think a slightly less muscled version of her brother plus pig-tail and you're pretty much there. She conjures up a delightful backhand slice drop-shot at 30-15 and screams with delight as Shara sprawls.

Sharapova 2-2 Safina
Quite blustery out there on court at the moment, with occasional swirls of red dust in the style of a frontier town in the Wild West. Sharp-shooter Shara narrows her eyes and fires down four more solid serves to blow Saffa away. Yet to drop a point on her serve, Maria.

Sharapova 1-2 Safina
Mirror image for Saffa - crunching serves and an ace down the middle to seal the deal. Just two points won against the serve so far. Shara Squeak to squashed mouse levels.

Sharapova 1-1 Safina
Easy hold to love for Shara - efficiency personified. On Court Philippe Chatrier, Roger Federer is a break up early on against Julien Benneteau.

Sharapova 0-1 Safina
Shara winds up a series of crunching forehands off Saffa's serve, but a fine stretching forehand volley at the net and a final ace gets Dinara's serve off to a winning start. The Shara Squeak merely at angry mouse levels so far.

1220: Shara's warming up in her navy mini-dress and sun-visor. Understated look, you'd have to say. Saffa's in a white vest-top and white skirt with pale blue edging. The stands are no more than half-full, but it's early doors.

1215: Afternoon, and welcome to an intriguing little battle on Court Suzanne Lenglen. Sharapova's a marginal favourite with the bookies but she's been as impressive as a stale baguette so far. Safina hasn't yet scaled the same peaks as big bro Marat but she's more than just a dangerous floater.


see also
French Open women's live scores
23 May 08 |  Tennis
French Open men's live scores
02 Jun 08 |  Tennis


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