• French Open, Day Seven

Sharapova storms on; Schiavone stunned

ESPN staff
June 2, 2012
Maria Sharapova has never won the French Open © Getty Images

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Maria Sharapova continues to power on ominously at the French Open, with Shuai Peng the latest to be steamrollered by the second seed.

After a 6-2 6-1 triumph in her third-round match, Sharapova has now surrendered just five games at the tournament this year.

The former world No. 1, who has won every grand slam except the French Open, showed why she is many people's favourite for the tournament with another dominant showing.

She now seems to have solved the riddle that is clay-court tennis after struggling for years, having lost just once on the surface in WTA Tour action in 2012.

Peng offered little to disprove that theory, trying a range of different styles and coming up short each time. Klara Zakopalova, who beat 22nd seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-3 7-5, will be the next to try and derail the Sharapova express.

Late in the day there was something of a shock, as 23rd seed Kaia Kanepi finally stumbled across the line against ninth seed Caroline Wozniacki.

Kanepi looked to be cruising to victory as she stormed into a 5-1 second set lead after taking the opening stanza, but time and again succumbed to nerves as Wozniacki stormed back into the match - taking the second set tiebreak.

Kanepi again looked comfortable after opening up a 5-2 lead over Wozniacki in the decider, before history briefly threatened to repeat itself. This time, however, Kanepi stuck to her guns and secured a 6-1 6-7(3) 6-3 win.

Former French Open champion Francesca Schiavone bowed out at the third-round stage with a loss to Varvara Lepchenko. Schiavone, who won the tournament in 2010 and was a finalist last year, made a shock exit with a 3-6 6-3 8-6 reverse against the world No. 63.

Italy's Schiavone arrived at the tournament having swept aside all before her in Strasbourg, storming to the title without dropping a set - but before that competition, she had suffered first or second round exits at ten consecutive events.

And while the first set against Lepchenko hinted at her Strasbourg form, the second and third frames were more reminiscent of her travails throughout 2012.

It was a patient, edgy match played from well behind the baseline, with both preferring to wait for a mistake rather than forcing the issue. Schiavone retreated into her shell in the third frame, and was punished for her caution in a three hour, two minute epic.

At one point it seemed like Li Na, last year's winner, was going to follow Schiavone in making an early departure. However, the Chinese player shrugged off losing the first set to triumph 3-6 6-2 6-1, setting up a fourth-rounder against Yaroslava Shvedova, who beat Carla Suarez Navarro.

Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, seeded fourth, was not made to pay for a second-set slump in her 6-2 4-6 6-1 victory over Nina Bratchikova.

Bratchikova, the unseeded Russian, looked overmatched in a one-sided opening set, but showed mental toughness to make the tie a more even contest in the second. A break in the sixth game of the third set finally shattered Bratchikova's resolve and handed Kvitova victory - although she looked heavy-legged and uncomfortable in the Paris heat, with the implication being the win took plenty out of her. Kvitova plays Lepchenko next.

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