Na Li Defeats Azarenka; Sharapova Embarrasses "Dancing Queen" Petkovic Again

Another day, another betting line favorite ousted on the women’s side of the French Open.  With the top three seeds already gone from the tournament, #4 Victoria Azarenka became the bookies’ favorite to win the championship at Roland Garros.  But her hopes were dashed again by Na Li, the 6th-ranked, 2011 Australian Open finalist from China.  Li ran her record to 4-1 lifetime against Azarenka, while the Belarusian beauty failed to breakthrough to her first career grand slam semifinal.  Azarenka is now 0-4 in the quarterfinal round.  This disappointing yet foreseeable loss comes just one day after Aza and partner Maria Kirilenko busted out in doubles in three sets.  Li defeated Azarenka 7-5, 6-2.

It was one of those days for Victoria Azarenka, who is now 1-4 against Na Li, and 0-4 in grand slam quarterfinals.

The other quarterfinal was another drubbing by the hottest player on tour, #7 Maria Sharapova.  The Russian has stated her intention to regain the world’s #1 ranking, and it certainly wasn’t going to be #15 Andrea Petkovic that derailed Sharapova’s dream.  Ever since Petkovic eliminated Sharapova from this year’s Aussie Open, and followed the win with her patented show-offy dance around the court, the four-time #1 has annihilated the dancing queen.  On the hard courts of Miami this spring, Petkovic was able to grab a 6-3 opening set on Sharapova.  Since then, Maria has allowed Petko to win exactly five games in four sets, including two bagels.  After the win in Miami, Sharapova questioned whether Petkovic was dancing after blowing the one set lead.  It was Maria’s veteran way of saying, “Hey assh*le, don’t ever do that on my court again.”  The Siberian force only furthered her point by crushing Petkovic in the French Open quarters today by a score of 6-0, 6-3.  And if anyone has a right to tell an opponent not to boast, it’s Sharapova.  Maria defeated Serena Williams in the 2004 Wimbledon final when the Russian was only 17 years old.  There was no dancing then, and there certainly isn’t any now.  Furthermore, it’s not like Petkovic can play the “youth card,” because while she’s just now becoming a popular player on the tour, the German is less than five months younger than the three-time grand slam champion Sharapova, who has never been accused of rubbing anyone’s nose in their own loss.

Petkovic couldn’t touch Sharapova today… until the post-match handshake of course.  There have been no reports of the red clay subbing as a dance floor.

Sharapova and Li will lead off the semifinal action on Thursday.  Maria is 5-2 against Li, but those two losses have been the most recent matches that the two players have played.  Both were on grass at Birmingham, in 2009 and 2010.  Both were straight sets victories for Li, but remember that Sharapova had not been very good during those years following injuries.  In fact, most people hadn’t counted Sharapova as “back” until she won Rome just a couple weeks ago.

The other semifinal is #11 Marion Bartoli of France against the defending champion, #5 Francesca Schiavone of Italy.  Schia is 4-1 against Bartoli, despite being ranked substantially lower than the Frenchwoman the last four times they have played.  This time, it is Schiavone who is favored to get back to the finals.  Surprisingly, this is only the second career semifinal at a major for either of these women.  Bartoli lost the 2007 Wimbledon final to Venus Williams, while Schiavone of course won the 2010 French Open.

Both semifinals are Thursday.

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