Azarenka falls, Djokovic stays
Paes-Vesnina, Bhupathi-Sania make it to mixed doubles quarterfinals
Victoria Azarenka was knocked out of the French Open fourth round on Sunday and could now lose her world number one ranking, while Novak Djokovic narrowly avoided following her to the exit.
Belarussian Azarenka was beaten 2-6, 6-7 by Slovakian 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 on Monday and has yet to drop a set here, must get to the Roland Garros final for the first time to become number one.
Cibulkova, who reached the French semifinals 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 matchpoint.
The Slovakian will play either US Open champion Samantha Stosur of Australia or American teenager Sloane Stephens in the quarterfinals.
Asked by a reporter how she would recover from the defeat, a stone-faced Azarenka said sarcastically: "I'm going to kill myself!"
Azarenka, who had come within five points of defeat in the first round against Italy's Alberta Brianti, was also asked what had gone wrong on Sunday. "Pretty much everything, really," she said. "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."
Djokovic, the men's world number one, had to come back from two sets down to beat Italian Andreas Seppi and continue his quest to hold all four Grand Slam titles at once.
The Serbian hit 77 unforced errors — 26 more than defending champion Rafael Nadal had racked up in three matches — before turning things around and managing to beat Seppi 4-6, 6-7, 6-3, 7-5, 6-3.
Roger Federer surrendered one set against Belgian fan and newcomer David Goffin before beating the lucky loser 5-7, 7-5, 6-2, 6-4 to reach the quarterfinals.
Federer, seeking a record 17th Grand Slam title, will play either Argentine Juan Martin del Potro, the ninth seed, or number seven Tomas Berdych of Czech Republic in the last eight. The Swiss, who won the Roland Garros title in 2009, saved two breakpoints before surrendering a third on a forehand error to lose the first set. The 21-year-old Goffin, the first lucky loser to reach the last 16 of a Grand Slam since compatriot Dick Norman at Wimbledon in 1995, kept up the pressure but ultimately was no match for the wily Federer.
Goffin, who plastered his bedroom walls with posters of his idol Federer when he was a teenager, won over the fans on the windy Suzanne Lenglen Court with his fighting spirit and prowess at the net.
At a break down in the fourth set, and presumably feeling defeat's warm breath on his neck, Goffin won a point on Federer's serve with a particularly athletic volley. The Belgian put his arm in the air, then graciously bowed to three sides of the court as the crowd cheered. Federer, 30, held serve and served out for the match at the next opportunity, showing his younger rival how it was done with an ace and a spectacular forehand down the line on the final two points. "David has played an extraordinary tournament," the Swiss said. "I congratulate him from the bottom of my heart."
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 quarterfinals of the claycourt Grand Slam for the first time. Kuznetsova's demise left Li Na as the only French Open champion still in the women's draw, after earlier-round defeats for Francesca Schiavone and Serena Williams.
Errani will now play another first-time quarterfinalist here, 10th seed Angelique Kerber who beat Croatian Petra Martic 6-3, 7-5 on Suzanne Lenglen Court.
Mahesh Bhupathi and Sania Mirza advanced to the mixed doubles quarterfinals after notching up a straight-set victory in the second round match.
The seventh seed Indian pair defeated their unseeded opponents from France, Virginie Razzano and Nicolas Devilder, 7-6, 6-3 in a contest lasting an hour and 20 minutes.
Leander Paes and Elena Vesnina also progressed to the last four stage with a 6-2, 6-0 drubbing of Mathilde Johansson and Marc Gicquel.
The fifth seed Indo-Russian pair needed just 49 minutes to dispatch the local pair in the second round of the clay court tournament. Paes and Vesnina broke their rivals twice in the opening set and thrice in the second to seal the win.
Fourth round results (prefix denotes seeding): Men's singles: 3-Roger Federer (Swit) bt David Goffin (Bel) 5-7, 7-5, 6-2, 6-4; 1-Novak Djokovic (Srb) bt 22-Andreas Seppi (Ita) 4-6, 6-7 (5-7), 6-3, 7-5, 6-3. Women’s singles: 15-Dominika Cibulkova (Svk) bt 1-Victoria Azarenka (Blr) 6-2, 7-6 (7-4); 10-Angelique Kerber (Ger) bt Petra Martic (Cro) 6-3, 7-5; 21-Sara Errani (Ita) bt 26-Svetlana Kuznetsova (Rus) 6-0, 7-5.