| Russia’s Dinara Safina jubilates after winning on Sunday. (AP)
Paris: With a stunning comeback against Maria Sharapova, Dinara Safina made her big brother proud. The sister of two-time Grand Slam winner Marat Safin, Safina erased a 5-1 deficit in the final set, won 18 of the last 21 points and beat Sharapova 7-5, 2-6, 7-5 on Sunday at the French Open.
World No. 1 Amelie Mauresmo suffered a shock exit when she was beaten 6-7, 6-1, 6-2 by Czech teenager Nicole Vaidisova in the fourth round.
The 17-year-old Vaidisova will next meet American 11th seed Venus Williams for a semi-final place. Venus recovered from a slow start to beat Switzerland's Patty Schnyder 4-6 6-3 6-2.
Roger Federer produced a clinical 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 victory over Czech Tomas Berdych to stride into the quarter finals.
Berdych had entered the contest without dropping a set in this year's tournament, but that statistic lasted only 39 minutes against the world's best player.
Federer will next meet Croatian 12th seed Mario Ancic.
Birthday boy Rafael Nadal survived a marathon slugfest, as well as a tricky banana, to beat Paul-Henri Mathieu 5-7, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 and keep the defence of his French Open title on track (as reported in Sunday’s late city edition).
The Spanish second seed, who now takes on Lleyton Hewitt for a place in the last eight, also had to defeat another opponent in the match when a piece of banana got stuck in his throat and he was forced to stop playing to consult a doctor. “I ate a banana and a piece stayed stuck in my throat,” said Nadal.
The lone remaining American in the men’s draw was eliminated when No. 8 seed James Blake lost to No. 25 Gael Monfils 6-2, 6-7 (2-7), 7-6 (1-7), 5-7, 6-4. The match had been suspended after two sets on Saturday because of darkness.
Croatians Ivan Ljubicic and Mario Ancic won, as did two-time runner-up Kim Clijsters on the women’s side.
Safina controlled the rallies in the final two games, keeping her Russian compatriot on the move and on her heels.“I took everything in my hands,” Safina said.
Safina will next play another Russian, former US Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova. The No. 8-seeded Kuznetsova lost her serve seven times but rallied past No. 9 Francesca Sch
The No. 4-seeded Ljubicic needed only two games to close out a victory over Juan Monaco 4-6, 5-7, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2. Their match was suspended on Saturday with Ljubicic leading 4-2 in the final set.
Ancic, seeded 12th, reached the Roland Garros quarter finals for the first time, beating No. 7 Tommy Robredo 6-4, 4-6, 2-6, 6-4, 7-5.
Clijsters, seeded second, beat No. 15 Daniela Hantuchova 6-1, 6-4.
Sharapova was two points from victory serving at 5-2 but won only three more points, one on a double fault. The 2004 Wimbledon champion has reached the semis at every major event except Roland Garros.
Safina is showing she can win on clay, where she’s 16-4 this spring.
In men’s doubles, Mahesh Bhupathi and his Belgian partner Xavier Malisse reached the quarter finals with a straight-set victory over the Swiss pair of Stanislas Wawrinka and Yves Allegro on Sunday.
The Indo-Belgian pair carved out a convincing 6-3, 6-1 win at Roland Garros to advance to the round of 16.
Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan and Sanam Singh won their first-round matches in boys’ singles.
Unseeded Jeevan defeated local boy Jerome Inzerillo 6-1, 6-4, while Sanam, seeded seventh, beat another French player Guillaume Rufin 1-6, 7-5, 6-2.