Safina Denies Sharapova Missing Title

APRussian Dinara Safina celebrating after her victory over compatriot Maria Sharapova during their fourth round match at the French Open in Paris on Mon
PARIS — Dinara Safina saved a match point before emerging as a 6-7, 7-6, 6-2 winner of an all-Russian battle with world No. 1 Maria Sharapova in the fourth round of the French Open on Monday.
The 13th seed, who had already beaten Sharapova in the last 16 at Roland Garros in 2006, will play her third grand slam quarterfinal against compatriot and seventh seed Yelena Dementiyeva.
Sharapova made the best start, taking the first break with a crosscourt backhand winner as Safina failed to convert her chances.
Safina finally broke on her seventh break point, which came in the eighth game, and both players held serve until the tiebreak.
The world No. 14 opened up a 6-4 lead but Sharapova saved the set points by forcing her opponent into two mishit backhands and claimed the two points she needed to bag the first set after 68 minutes.
The opening games of the second set went with serve but Sharapova broke for 4-2 with a sharp backhand winner down the line.
She held serve to go 5-2 up and it looked like Safina would bow out.
The 22-year-old from Moscow had a match point against her at 5-3 and saved it with a bold backhand winner down the line and went on to break back before forcing another tiebreak.
The Australian Open champion got off to the best start and was two points from the match, only for Safina to win five points in a row to win it 7-5, the last one when Sharapova’s backhand clipped the net and bounced wide.
Although she threw away a 40-0 lead on her serve to fall behind after the first game of the decider, Safina broke back to love with both players holding serve until the sixth game, when Sharapova conceded another break by netting a forehand.
An exhausted Sharapova found herself unable to run for the ball and bowed out when she sent a forehand wide on the second match point.
The French Open remains, for at least another year, the only grand slam title missing from Sharapova’s collection.
World No. 1 Roger Federer, meanwhile, shot down a brave challenge from Frenchman Julien Benneteau to go through to the quarterfinals of the French Open with a 6-4, 7-5, 7-5 victory on Monday.
Benneteau, one of five Frenchmen to reach the last 16, fought tooth and nail for stretches with the top seed and broke the Swiss serve in all three sets, but Federer marched on after two hours and 26 rain-interrupted minutes on Center Court.
Federer reached his fourth consecutive Paris quarterfinal when he smashed home an overhead on his third match point.