Azarenka routs Schiavone in fourth round; Sharapova tops Stephens
PARIS -- Defending champion Maria Sharapova returned to the French Open quarterfinals by beating 17th-seeded Sloane Stephens of the United States 6-4, 6-3 on Monday.
The second-seeded Sharapova handled Stephens' strong serve well, accumulating 12 break points and converting eight.
In 2012, Sharapova completed a career Grand Slam at Roland Garros, adding that trophy to ones from Wimbledon in 2004, the U.S. Open in 2006 and the Australian Open in 2008.
Sharapova has won all eight sets she's played so far this year and will face No. 18 Jelena Jankovic or 54th-ranked Jamie Hampton in the quarterfinals.
Stephens, a semifinalist at the Australian Open in January, lost in the French Open's fourth round for the second year in a row. She's 1-8 against women ranked in the top five.
Seeded No. 3, Azarenka improved to 26-2 in 2013. She has won the Australian Open each of the past two years, and Roland Garros is the only major tournament where she has yet to reach the semifinals.
Play began in weather so cool both players dressed in long sleeves, and Azarenka wore leggings under her skirt. From the baseline the two women traded strokes and grunts.
"Ah-heee!" Azarenka shrieked.
"Wah-hooo!" Schiavone responded.
There were four consecutive service breaks before Azarenka took the lead for good, holding to make it 4-3. The superior pace and depth of her shots began to wear on the unseeded Schiavone, and Azarenka took charge by winning 11 of 12 points during a stretch late in the first set.
The Belarusian broke serve seven times and committed only 14 unforced errors.
"It was definitely a very good challenge for me to play against Francesca, especially knowing how well she's done here in the past," Azarenka said. "I'm glad with the way I played today."
"The next step is quarterfinals," Azarenka said. "Never been past it here, so it would definitely be a much better result."
Russia's Maria Kirilenko reached her first French Open quarterfinal by ending the surprising run of 67th-ranked American Bethanie Mattek-Sands with a 7-5, 6-4 victory.
The 12th-seeded Kirilenko lost in the fourth round at Roland Garros in 2010 and 2011.
She trailed 4-1 at the start against Mattek-Sands, who stunned 2011 French Open champion Li Na in the second round.
But Mattek-Sands' lead began slipping away, and while ahead 5-4, she asked for medical attention. From there, Kirilenko won four games in a row.
Kirilenko, who is engaged to two-time NHL MVP Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals, also was visited by a trainer, getting a massage on her right shoulder in the second set.
Kirilenko held on, though, and faces Azarenka next.