By Danielle Rossingh
PARIS — Maria Sharapova was dethroned as the French Open champion by Lucie Safarova while men’s top seed Novak Djokovic will play nine-time winner Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals.
Safarova, a left-handed Czech, beat the defending champion from Russia 7-6 (7-3), 6-4 in the first match of the day on the main Court Philippe Chatrier at Roland Garros. It was Sharapova’s earliest defeat in Paris since 2010.
“Maria is an incredible player,” the 13th-seeded Safarova said in a courtside interview after the match, which was moved to Monday after rain delays. “I knew I had to play aggressive.”
Safarova produced 34 winners, including 20 on her forehand. Sharapova had 20 winners and got broken three times.
“She took the time away from me, created her angles and I didn’t,” Sharapova said in a news conference. “That was the difference today.”
Nadal defeated Jack Sock, the last American…
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