Christophe Ena/Associated Press
Christophe Ena/Associated Press
PARIS – If love means never having to say you’re sorry, what about 6-love?
Depends which side of the French Open scoreboard you’re on, apparently.
Maria Sharapova feels not a shred of remorse about the way she’s been finishing off opponents quickly – a total of five games lost through three matches at Roland Garros this year, including a 6-0, 6-0 win in the first round.
The 27th-seeded Mikhail Youzhny of Russia, meanwhile, was on the wrong end of a shutout set Saturday and decided he needed to apologize right then and there to the ticket-buyers in the seats at Court Suzanne Lenglen. Finally having won one game after losing the first eight against No. 6 David Ferrer of Spain, Youzhny used the toe of his right sneaker to carve a mea culpa in the red clay near the baseline.
He etched out “SORRi!” – stamping the dot atop the lowercase last letter for emphasis before heading to the sideline for a changeover.
“People in the stands may not have noticed, but I think I had to do this,” Youzhny said after his 6-0, 6-2, 6-2 loss.
“There was a lot of people. That’s why I write ‘sorry’ – because I can’t show them a nice game,” he explained. “The way we played in the beginning, it was not really interesting for people.”
Ferrer, who said he didn’t see Youzhny’s lettering, was part of Spain’s 5-0 showing Saturday, led by Rafael Nadal, who continued his bid for a record seventh French Open title by overpowering Eduardo Schwank of Argentina 6-1, 6-3, 6-4.
“Now the first week has gone by,” said Nadal, who gets a day off Sunday, his 26th birthday. “It’s always the most complicated week to manage.”
The other Spaniards who moved on were No. 12 Nicolas Almagro, No. 13 Juan Monaco and No. 20 Marcel Granollers, a five-set winner against Paul-Henri Mathieu, the Frenchman who edged John Isner in an 18-16 fifth set in the second round.
The second-seeded Sharapova’s matches haven’t contained a shred of intrigue so far. Not surprisingly, that’s absolutely OK with her.
After a 6-2, 6-1 victory over No. 28 Peng Shuai put her in the fourth round, Sharapova was asked whether any part of her feels bad for someone paying a lot of money to watch an hour or so of tennis.
“The last thing that’s on my mind when I’m going out on court is thinking about who paid for a ticket and how long they’re going to watch my match for,” said Sharapova, who is trying to complete a career Grand Slam by winning her first French Open championship. “I mean, I’m not sure if that’s selfish or not, but my job is to go out on the court and to try to win. Whether it’s 6-0, 6-0, whether it’s a tough three-set match, you’re trying to do what you have to do.”
Sharapova’s section of the draw seems to be getting a bit easier by the hour.
One potential quarterfinal opponent, 13-time major champion Serena Williams, lost in the first round. Another, former No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki, exited 6-1, 6-7 (3), 6-3 against No. 23 Kaia Kanepi of Estonia. And a third, No. 25 Julie Goerges of Germany, was beaten 7-6 (5), 2-6, 6-2 by 88th-ranked Arantxa Rus of the Netherlands.
Wozniacki got into a couple of extended arguments over line calls with chair umpire Poncho Ayala, including about a second-set shot by Kanepi that landed near the baseline to earn a service break for the Estonian.
“How can you sit there and be so arrogant? Have you gone to school?” Wozniacki said to Ayala, drawing boos from spectators.
At her postmatch news conference, Wozniacki said: “When the ball is clearly out, I don’t think there should be anything to argue about. You know, if they cannot see, they should have other umpires on the lines or (use replay technology) on these courts. It’s a disgrace that mistakes like this are made.”
Not only are Williams, Wozniacki and Goerges out of the way, but in the fourth round, Sharapova gets to face 44th-ranked Klara Zakopalova of the Czech Republic, who eliminated No. 22 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia 6-3, 7-5.
Also in Sharapova’s half of the field, No. 12 Francesca Schiavone, the 2010 French Open champion, was a 3-6, 6-3, 8-6 loser against Varvara Lepchenko, who joined 19-year-old Sloane Stephens to give the United States two unseeded women in the fourth round of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time in 10 years.
“I don’t think it’s the right way to look at things to see somebody lose and say, ‘Oh, well, now the draw is open.’ ... You can’t go about playing a Grand Slam like that,” Sharapova said. “You’ve got to be ready to face your toughest opponents from the first round on. And if you’re not ready, then you should probably not be here.”
For years, she traveled to tournaments with her father. Now he’s at home in Florida, taking care of Sharapova’s dog, so it’s Mom’s turn to be on the road.
Dad still likes to offer tennis advice from afar, but Sharapova isn’t a fan of his texting skills.
“He can’t text. It’s useless. He writes half-Russian, half-English. The words are all mixed up, misspelled. I just ask him to call me. And I try to Skype with him, and that’s a nightmare because he doesn’t know, like, how to answer. It’s horrible,” she said with a hearty laugh.
“But I talk with him every day, mainly just to find out if my dog is still alive.”