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Safina Ruined Sharapova's Roland Garros Dream

Dinara Safina saved a match point before coming from behind to stun world No. 1 Maria Sharapova and proved her title credentials with 6-7 (6-8) 7-6 (7-5) 6-2 win.

Sharapova was discomfited throughout by Safina's deep hitting and struggled to put her game together in wet conditions. She initially emerged the stronger after a one-hour rain delay but lost the next two sets, repeatedly voicing her frustration as the French crowd rallied for the underdog.

"I had many opportunities but I guess it was a combination of not taking those chances and being a little unlucky at times," said Sharapova.

"Physically you have to stick with her. She's had great success on clay and is a really tough opponent on this surface. It went in the wrong direction really fast. It was just one of those days." - said Sharapova.

Sharapova’s customary screeches reached maximum volume as the match slipped away, and the noise seemed to annoy fans. They whistled and booed Sharapova as she left Court Suzanne Lenglen after the match, and she didn’t acknowledge the crowd.

“I can’t please everyone,” she said. “It’s not in my job description. I’m an athlete, and I go out there and fight my heart out. They paid the ticket to watch me, so they must appreciate me on some level, right?”

The victory echoed Safina's three-set win over Sharapova at the same stage in 2006 when she recovered from 1-5 down in the final set and it came in the most dramatic of circumstances.
She wasted two set points in the opening tie-break, battled from 2-5 in the second set, saving a match point in the ninth game, before then recovering from 2/5 down in the second set tie-break.

"After my title this season in Berlin, this was one of my best matches and one of my best comebacks," said Safina, a quarter-finalist in 2006.

"I knew I could beat her but I put too much pressure on myself and was way too passive. I was too dependent on her and I was 2-5 down in the second set and facing a match point."

"But I hit a winner on her match point and it changed things. Before I was just running and playing the ball back. But I had to focus on myself and not wait for her mistakes and let her dictate."

"Maybe she went a little down but I went for it and for my shots."

Safina's quarterfinal opponent will be seventh-seed Elena Dementieva, a former French Open runner-up who defeated 11th seeded fellow Russian Vera Zvonareva 6-4, 1-6, 6-2.

(source TSN, AFP, photo/AFP)

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