Maria Sharapova has vowed to put years of clay-court under-achievement behind her, starting with victory over German 15th seed Andrea Petkovic in today’s French Open quarterfinal.
Sharapova, the seventh seed, has tasted success at Wimbledon (2004), the US Open (2006) and the Australian Open (2008), but her best Roland Garros showing remains a straight sets semifinal defeat by Ana Ivanovic in 2007.
The former world No.1 is a different prospect on clay these days, however, and demonstrated her newly acquired ease on the dirt by triumphing at the Rome Masters earlier this month.
With the top three seeds already eliminated at Roland Garros, Sharapova will also know that this year’s tournament may represent her best-ever chance of becoming the 10th woman to complete a career Grand Slam.
“I’ve always said it would be challenging to win here but I’ve always worked hard on preparing myself as best as I could,” said Sharapova, after a 7-6 (7/4), 7-5 defeat of Polish 12th seed Agnieszka Radwanska in the fourth round.
Sharapova has won three of four career meetings with Petkovic, who stunned the Russian in straight sets in the last 16 at this year’s Australian Open before Sharapova gained her revenge in the semifinals of the Miami Masters.
“She’s a very tough opponent. She’s also quite good on this surface and moves well, and she’ll use that to her advantage,” Sharapova said.
Petkovic’s 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 fourth-round win over Russian 25th seed Maria Kirilenko equaled her best Grand Slam performance, after her run to the last eight in Melbourne.
A win over Sharapova would take her into the last four at a major for the first time, but the 23-year-old world No. 12 said she was simply thrilled to be moving in such exalted circles.
“I think [Sharapova] represents women’s tennis really well. I feel honored to be in the quarterfinals at all and even more so playing such a champion,” Petkovic said. “I’ll have to play my best clay-court tennis to beat her.”
Wednesday’s other quarterfinal pits Belarusian fourth seed Victoria Azarenka against Chinese sixth seed Li Na, the first player from her country to reach the last eight at Roland Garros.