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Unknown Ernests rules as Federer fades away

Roger Federer waves to the crowd after being knocked out of French Open, on Sunday

Paris: Roger Federer suffered his earliest defeat at the French Open for a decade on Sunday, when he lost to Latvian Ernests Gulbis in the fourth round, but Andy Murray lived to fight another day after a five-set thriller.

Maria Sharapova won the last nine games of the match to sweep past Australia’s Samantha Stosur 3-6, 6-4, 6-0 into the quarter finals.

She won the match on her second match point and will play unseeded Garbine Muguruza of Spain in the quarter finals after she beat Pauline Parmentier 6-4, 6-2.

The Swiss fourth seed, who won the title in 2009, seemed to have the match in his grasp against the unpredictable Gulbis, but faded badly to lose 6-7 (5-7), 7-6 (7-3), 6-2, 4-6, 6-3.

World No. 2 Novak Djokovic of Serbia continued his stroll when he destroyed local favourite Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-1, 6-4, 6-1 on Sunday to reach the quarter-finals.

Djokovic, chasing the only Grand Slam title to elude him, was never troubled by the 13th-seeded Tsonga, who suffered an embarrassing defeat in 89 minutes one year after making it to the last four in Paris.

It is the first time since 2004 that 32-year-old father of four, Federer, has failed to reach the quarter-finals and he has now fallen before that stage in three of his last four Grand Slams tournaments.

Seventh seed Murray reached the fourth round, winning a deciding set 12-10 against Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber having re-started the match on Sunday, locked at 7-7 in the fifth after bad light stopped play the previous evening.

In the women’s singles, fast-rising Canadian Eugenie Bouchard thrashed Angelique Kerber 6-1, 6-2 to claim a quarter-final spot, crunching 30 winners in 52 dazzling minutes to stretch her winning run on clay to nine matches.

Former world No.1 Federer, who became father to a second set of twins recently, looked a slightly forlorn figure as Gulbis turned around the match and the days when he was a near certainty to reach semi-finals appear to be over.

The 17-times Grand Slam champion was beaten in the second round at Wimbledon last year and the last 16 at the U.S. Open although he did enjoy a semi-final run in Australia.

In women’s doubles, Sania Mirza and Cara Black brushed aside the challenge of Jelena Jankovic and Alisa Kleybanova to reach the quarter-finals, but Rohan Bopanna’s campaign ended at the French Open following his defeat in the mixed doubles quarter-finals.

Fifth seeds Sania and Cara were clinical in their 6-3, 6-3 win over the Serbian-Russian combo in the third round of the clay court Grand Slam.

However, they are now up against the top seeded pair of Su-Wei Hsieh from Taipei and China’s Shuai Peng, to whom they have already lost twice this season.

Sania and Cara had ended runners-up to Su-Wei and Shuai at Indian Wells and again lost to them in the quarter-finals of the Madrid event.

Bopanna and his partner Katarina Srebotnik, seeded second, frittered away a good start to lose the mixed doubles quarter-finals 6-2, 4-6, 5-10 to eight seeds Julia Goerges from Germany and Serbia’s Nenad Zimonjic. (Agencies)