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Sharapova rallies to reach quarter-finals

ESPN staff
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Maria Sharapova, the favorite in what has become a wide open French Open women's draw, reached the quarter-finals on Sunday © Getty Images
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It might seem unlikely for a player to go from merely mediocre to nearly perfect right smack-dab in the middle of a match, yet that's what Maria Sharapova did in the French Open's fourth round.

Shouting and shaking her fists after plenty of points, 2012 champion Sharapova reeled off the last nine games to engineer quite a comeback and beat Samantha Stosur 3-6 6-4 6-0 on Sunday to reach the quarter-finals at Roland Garros.

"How quickly things can turn," Stosur said. "I don't think I did much wrong. It was just one of those things. You miss a ball, she hits a good serve next one, [you] play a sloppy game, and all of a sudden, you're even - and she runs away with it."

After dropping the first set and trailing 4-3 in the second, Sharapova did not allow Stosur to win another game. Sharapova took control by taking 22 of 25 points in one stretch against Stosur, who won the 2011 US Open and got to the final at the 2010 French Open.

"There are so many emotions you go through in a match, and then there are always moments where you feel a bit of a momentum change," Sharapova said. "I think you feel a lot more as a player than maybe a spectator."

Sharapova is trying to get to her third consecutive final in Paris. She completed a career Grand Slam with her title two years ago, then was the runner-up to Serena Williams in 2013.

When this year's tournament draw came out, the match everyone was pointing to in the women's bracket was a potential rematch between Sharapova and Williams in the quarter-finals.

So much for that. Williams was surprisingly beaten 6-2 6-2 in the second round by world No.35 Garbine Muguruza, a 20-year-old from Spain.

And now Sharapova's quarter-final opponent will be Muguruza.

"Of course now I'm very happy what I did," Muguruza said on Sunday after getting to the final eight at a grand slam tournament for the first time by eliminating French wild-card entry Pauline Parmentier 6-4 6-2. "But I want to continue."

The other women's quarter-final set up on Sunday was Carla Suarez Navarro against Eugenie Bouchard. Suarez Navarro beat Ajla Tomljanovic 6-3 6-3, while Bouchard needed less than an hour to get past Angelique Kerber 6-1 6-2.

Bouchard wasted no time, opening up a 5-0 lead in 16 minutes.

"I really believe in my skills. I believe I can play with the best girls out there," Bouchard said. "She's top 10, so I respect her. She can play some really good tennis. I was really mentally prepared for anything, for a battle. I think that mindset kind of helped me."

Kerber, a quarter-finalist at Roland Garros two years ago, made a string of unforced errors and Bouchard broke for a 2-1 lead in the second set when Kerber returned long from the back of the court.

Although Sharapova remains the favourite with the three top seeds out, Bouchard thinks the tournament is wide open.

"There is a lot of room for other players to move up," Bouchard said. "I think it just makes the draw really interesting when some of the top names are out and we see some new names that we haven't seen that much."

Trailing 5-2, Kerber played with the strings of her racket as she hunched forward on her chair, her head bowed. Bouchard, by contrast, sat upright, taking a few deep breaths to compose herself before serving out the match. She clinched victory on her first match point when Kerber - a two-time grand slam semi-finalist - made another unforced error, this time as her wild forehand sailed out.

"I was not in the game. I was trying, but I had no rhythm," Kerber said. "I make so many mistakes. I actually was not moving very good."

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