Paris:Amelie Mauresmo usually faults her mind-set after French Open failures. This time, she blamed her body for a third-round loss.
Mauresmo was unable to do what another two-time Grand Slam champion hampered by an injury, Maria Sharapova, successfully managed on Saturday: deal with pain, set aside a lack of proper preparation and beat a less-experienced opponent.
The fifth-seeded Mauresmo blew a 3-0 lead in each set and lost to No. 25 Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic 6-3, 7-6 (3), the latest in a string of early exits at Roland Garros for the Frenchwoman.
"Well, it's disappointing," Mauresmo said when asked where this ranks among her French Open setbacks. "As disappointing? No, because, again, coming here, this year especially, I didn't expect really great things to happen."
She missed more than a month after having an appendectomy in March, then struggled with a groin injury that a trainer taped up during a timeout in the first set Saturday.
"No miracle today," said Mauresmo, who finished with more unforced errors, fewer winners and eight double-faults. "When you're not prepared the way you should be, then it makes it very difficult."
Mauresmo let down the partisan fans at Court Philippe Chatrier that earlier saw Sharapova wince after some points and flex her problematic right shoulder after others. Still, the second-seeded Russian pulled out a 6-1, 6-4 victory over Alla Kudryavtseva.
"I can't expect a lot from my shoulder," said Sharapova, who double-faulted five times in the second set while getting broken three times in a row.
That put her in a 4-1 hole, but she won the last five games.
Before coming to Paris, the reigning US Open champion got a cortisone shot in the shoulder and took some time off to let the joint rest.
"The doctors have given me an OK to play with it, even though, I mean, it's impossible to feel 100 percent healthy, even if it's not the shoulder," Sharapova said. "I mean, you're always going to feel aches and pains somewhere, especially on clay courts. It's normal. As long as I know I can't damage anything further, then I'm cool to play."
It was a rough day for the locals, with Paul-Henri Mathieu and Olivier Patience joining Mauresmo on the way out, leaving only one French singles player of the 36 men and women who entered: No 18 Marion Bartoli. France hasn't fared that poorly since 1997, when it also had one woman and no men in this event's fourth round.
Pressure to perform
Cries of "Ah-meh-lee!" rang out during Mauresmo's match, pleading with her to play better. She has spoken about feeling the pressure of trying to perform well at her country's tennis championship, and everything was supposed to be easier after her Grand Slam breakthroughs last season.
Can't win the big one? Yeah, right: She did it twice, at the Australian Open, then Wimbledon.
But while trying to defend her title at Melbourne in January, she lost to - guess who? - Safarova in the fourth round. Now Mauresmo has played at the French Open 13 times without ever getting past the quarterfinals, her worst track record at a major.
Safarova, meanwhile, entered 2007 with a 1-6 record at Grand Slams, including 0-2 at the French Open.
"I was, like, growing up," the 20-year-old said.
Her success at the Australian Open has helped breed success this week by increasing her confidence.
"You know that you can beat the good players, that you can play with them," Safarova said. "You are more stronger in your mind."
She'll meet No 9 Anna Chakvetadze of Russia for a quarterfinal berth, while Sharapova plays No 14 Patty Schnyder of Switzerland.
Other fourth-round matchups set up Saturday include No. 3 Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia against No 15 Shahar Peer of Israel, and No 7 Ana Ivanovic of Serbia against No 24 Anabel Medina Garrigues of Spain, who edged No 12 Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia 4-6, 7-6 (2), 7-5 in a match that stretched beyond three hours.
For Medina Garrigues, it marks her second trip to the round of 16 at a major. The other time she made it this far, at the 2002 Australian Open, she tore a ligament in her right knee while playing Monica Seles.