When top-stars took the early flight out
Maybe all the pre-tournament "anyone could win" chatter about the women's championship at Roland Garros was right. After all, No. 3 Vera Zvonareva's loss in the fourth round Sunday, following earlier exits by No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki and No. 2 Kim Clijsters, makes this year's French Open the first in the Open era with none of the top three seeded women in the quarterfinals.
Maybe all the pre-tournament "anyone could win" chatter about the women's championship at Roland Garros was right.
After all, No. 3 Vera Zvonareva's loss in the fourth round Sunday, following earlier exits by No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki and No. 2 Kim Clijsters, makes this year's French Open the first in the Open era with none of the top three seeded women in the quarterfinals.
Then again, maybe the seedings weren't the best way to judge who would take the title.
After all, there are some familiar faces still around, including the past two French Open champions, 2010's Francesca Schiavone of Italy, and 2009's Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia.
"We will see," said the fifth-seeded Schiavone, who reprised her celebratory routine from a year ago and dropped to her knees to kiss the clay court after beating No. 10 Jelena Jankovic of Serbia 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 Sunday. "For sure it's interesting, but in (women's) tennis now, it's really, really open."
Kuznetsova, who also won the 2004 U.S. Open but is seeded 13th after a wayward 2010, came back to eliminate No. 28 Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia 6-7 (6), 6-3, 6-2.
In the quarterfinals, Kuznetsova will meet No. 11 Marion Bartoli of France, the runner-up at Wimbledon in 2007, who advanced Sunday when Gisela Dulko of Argentina quit because of a left leg muscle injury while trailing 7-5, 1-0.
Schiavone's next opponent is No. 14 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia, who reeled off the final five games of her 7-6 (4), 2-6, 6-2 victory over Zvonareva.
"Everyone is (saying) that we don't really have a leader right now in (women's) tennis, because, it's, like, up and down, I mean, in terms of results," said the 19-year-old Pavlyuchenkova, who never before made it past the fourth round at any of the Grand Slam tournaments. "It's not like No. 1, or top five, are winning, like in (men's) tennis."
Certainly not currently, with Serena Williams - owner of 13 major singles titles - sidelined since last July because of a series of health issues and Justine Henin - owner of seven - back in retirement.
Zvonareva, a finalist at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open last year, almost was knocked out of the French Open in the second round, but saved a match point against a qualifier and came back to win. Clijsters did bow out in the second round, against a woman ranked 114th, while Wozniacki lost to Hantuchova in the third round.
It's only the third time the women seeded Nos. 1-3 are gone by the quarterfinals at any Grand Slam since 1968, when professional players were allowed to enter major tournaments. The others were Wimbledon in 2008 and the Australian Open in 1997.
Of the eight women scheduled to play their fourth-round matches Monday, only one - seventh-seeded Maria Sharapova - has won a Grand Slam title.
Asked whether any conclusions about the state of women's tennis can be drawn from some of the surprising results at this French Open, Pavlyuchenkova passed.
"I don't really want to comment on this, because, well, it's (none) of my business," she said. "I'm just trying to do my thing, focusing on me. ... The rest, I don't really care."