Mon, Jun 04, 2012 - Page 20 News List

Azarenka out, may lose top rank

‘DISGRACE’:Former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki slammed the officiating for missing a call that she said was clearly past the baseline in her loss to Kaia Kanepi

Agencies, PARIS

Italy’s Sara Errani hits a return to Russia’s Svetlana Kuznetsova during their women’s singles fourth-round match of the French Open at Roland Garros Stadium in Paris yesterday.

Photo: AFP

Victoria Azarenka was knocked out of the French Open fourth round yesterday and could now lose her world No. 1 ranking.

The top-seeded Belarussian was beaten 6-2, 7-6 by Slovak 15th seed Dominika Cibulkova and must wait to see if Russian Maria Sharapova will claim the top spot.

Sharapova, who meets unseeded Czech Klara Zakopalova in the last 16 today and has yet to drop a set here, must get to the Roland Garros final for the first time to become No. 1.

Cibulkova, who reached the French semi-finals three years ago and had lost seven times to Azarenka in eight previous meetings, collapsed on to her back, a big grin on her face, after winning the tiebreak 7-4 with a backhand crosscourt on her second match point.

Asked how she would recover from the defeat, a stone-faced Azarenka said sarcastically: “I’m going to kill myself!”

Analyzing what went wrong, she said: “Pretty much everything, really. I don’t know how to describe my performance today ... I wasn’t satisfied being out there playing that way, but I guess it happens.”

Italy’s Sara Errani saw off her second French Open champion in two rounds when she beat Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-0, 7-5 to reach the quarter-finals of the claycourt Grand Slam for the first time.

“I am curious to see how far I can go, what level I can get to,” said clay specialist Errani, who had knocked out Serbian Ana Ivanovic, the 2008 winner, in the previous round.

Yesterday’s matches were played under cloudy skies and Kuznetsova, who won in 2009, said the gloomy weather had affected her.

“Today the weather was so bad. I felt cold during the whole match. For me to move was really complicated, I couldn’t make my feet move,” said the Russian, who started working with Marat Safin’s old coach, Hernan Gumy, a week before the tournament.

Errani will now play another first-time quarter-finalist here, 10th seed Angelique Kerber, who beat Croatian Petra Martic 6-3, 7-5 on Suzanne Lenglen Court.

On Saturday, Caroline Wozniacki made no apologies for her behavior on court at the French Open, even calling the officiating a “disgrace” after losing in the third round.

The ninth-seeded Wozniacki, still searching for her first Grand Slam title, argued several line calls in a 6-1, 6-7 (3/7), 6-3 loss to No. 23 Kaia Kanepi of Estonia. And it was one particular ruling that drew the most severe comments from the former top-ranked Dane.

“It’s a disgrace that mistakes like this are made,” said Wozniacki, who was broken in the third game of the second set on a ball she thought was past the baseline. “It wasn’t even like, ‘Could have been in, could have been out.’ It was clearly out.”

Rafael Nadal had no problems on Philippe Chatrier Court, beating Eduardo Schwank of Argentina 6-1, 6-3, 6-4 to improve his French Open record to 48-1. And Sharapova completed her third straight rout, defeating Peng Shuai of China 6-2, 6-1. Sharapova has lost only five games through three matches at Roland Garros this year.

Defending champion Li Na, the seventh seed, battled back to defeat the US’ Christina McHale 3-6, 6-2, 6-1.

The 30-year-old Li had to draw upon her 10-year age gap to prevail over the 36th-ranked American, who had fallen in the first round in 2010 and last year.

The seventh-seeded Li will face qualifier Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan for a place in the quarter-finals.

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