Sharapova trounced

Maria Sharapova barely averted a shutout Tuesday before losing to Dominika Cibulkova 6-0, 6-2 in the quarter-finals of the French Open. Cibulkova was one point from victory at 5-love in the second set before Sharapova finally found her form.

Russia’s Dinara Safina returns the ball to Belarus’ Victoria Azarenka during their quarter final match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris

PARIS — Maria Sharapova barely averted a shutout Tuesday before losing to Dominika Cibulkova 6-0, 6-2 in the quarter-finals of the French Open.

Cibulkova was one point from victory at 5-love in the second set before Sharapova finally found her form.

She won that game and then another, hitting a flurry of winners and saving four match points before Cibulkova closed out the win.

“I don’t really care about numbers,” Sharapova said.

“It’s either a W or an L, and I prefer W. You know, if it’s 7-6 in the third and you come out with a loss, I mean, what’s the difference?”

Sharapova was playing in just her second tournament after a layoff of nearly 10 months because of a right shoulder injury. She won three-setters in all four previous rounds at Paris, and the long matches took a toll.

“I guess you could only ask your body to do so much,” she said. “Everything fell a little short today. The pace wasn’t there on my strokes, and I was five steps slower.”

Sharapova, a three-time Grand Slam champion, had 27 unforced errors to nine for the No. 20-seeded Cibulkova, a Slovak who advanced to her first major semifinal.

Cibulkova’s opponent Thursday will be top-ranked Dinara Safina, who rallied to beat Victoria Azarenka 1-6, 6-4, 6-2.

Toronto’s Daniel Nestor and Serbian partner Nenad Zimonjic cruised into the semifinals in men’s doubles with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Russians Igor Kunitsyn and Dmitry Tursunov.

Top-seeded Nestor and Zimonjic, who’ve been nearly unbeatable on clay, needed just 61 minutes to advance, recording their 20th victory on clay in their last 21 matches. They face No. 3 seeds Lukas Dlouhy of the Czech Republic and Leander Paes of India.

In men’s play, Robin Soderling came up with an impressive encore to his upset of top-ranked Rafael Nadal by beating Nikolay Davydenko. The No. 23-seeded Soderling swept the first five games and won 6-1, 6-3, 6-1.

“I always knew that I could play really, really good tennis,” he said.

After ending Nadal’s four-year reign as French Open champion, Soderling received a congratulatory text message from fellow Swede Bjorn Borg. His opponent Friday will be No. 12-seeded Fernando Gonzalez, who became the first Chilean to reach the French Open semifinals when he beat No. 3 Andy Murray 6-3, 3-6, 6-0, 6-4.

Gonzalez finished with 24 forehand winners to three for Murray.

Sharapova-Cibulkova was an even bigger mismatch. Sharapova’s legs looked wobbly, and she repeatedly hit the ball late and sent it wide.

The 20-year-old Cibulkova relied on steady strokes from the baseline, and the margin in unforced errors in the opening set was 13-1.

“It was, I think, more surprising for the people who don’t know me, maybe for the crowd,” Cibulkova said. “But today I was playing really solid.”

Safina, seeking her first Grand Slam title, lost only five games in the first four rounds. Against Azarenka, Safina was repeatedly lunging for shots early but regained her dominating form at 4-all in the second set.

Safina was the runner-up at the 2008 French Open and this year’s Australian Open. She became No. 1 for the first time on April 20 and is 19-1 this year on clay.

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