Paris: Defending champion Li Na of China crashed out of the French Open on Monday, losing 3-6, 6-2, 6-0 to unseeded Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan in the fourth round and dashing Asia's hopes of a second Grand Slam title.
Shvedova, the world number 142, will play either Varvara Lepchenko of the United States or fourth seed Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic for a place in the semi-finals and is the last qualifier standing at Roland Garros.
Li, the 30-year-old world number seven and a superstar in her homeland, was attempting to be the first French Open women's champion to successfully defend the title since Justine Henin in 2007.
But Li found it tough to cope with the cold and breezy conditions at Suzanne Lenglen court and a 24-year-old opponent with nothing to lose.
After a confident start, Li had a spectacular meltdown in the second set and never recovered, notching 41 errors and ending up broken seven times.
Li, the second biggest earner in women's sport next to Maria Sharapova thanks to China's massive market, was the first Asian to win a singles title in a major and her victory at Roland Garros last year encouraged many Chinese girls to take up tennis.
Shvedova had also made it to the Roland Garros quarter-finals in 2010, her first time in a Grand Slam last eight.
Li broke Shvedova in the first game and kept her less experienced opponent on the run for most of the first set with aggressive baseline play, relying heavily on her flat, pinpoint backhand.
The second break came in the ninth game when Li set up match point with a backhand winner, and Shvedova obliged by driving a forehand into the net.
The difficult weather took its toll in the second set, when neither player was able to hold serve until the sixth game, when Shvedova took a 4-2 lead as Li's errors piled up.
The Kazakh broke Li again to serve for the set, saving two break points to win 6-2.
The third set started horribly for the Chinese, who was broken with two stinging service returns from a now confident-looking Shvedova, who then served comfortably to advance 2-0.
Li was broken again in the third game after Shvedova made two spectacular baseline returns that left Li flustered.
Li seemed to have a glimmer of hope in the next game but Shvedova saved four break points to stay ahead 4-0, and then broke Li again to serve for the match.
On her third match point, Shvedova served to Li's usually reliable backhand and the defending champion drove the ball low into the net.