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Sharapova survives another 3-setter at French Open

FOUR three-set matches, four victories for Maria Sharapova at the French Open.

The unseeded Russian with the injured right shoulder pulled out another close one at Roland Garros yesterday, coming back to beat 25th-seeded Li Na of China 6-4, 0-6, 6-4 and reach the quarterfinals at the clay-court major for the fourth time in her career.

"If it takes three sets, if it takes two sets, if it takes two sets in five hours - I don't care," Sharapova said. "I'm willing to be out there for as long as I need to be in order to finish the match."

Sharapova was absent from the tour for the better part of year. The last Grand Slam tournament she played before her injury forced her off the court was at Wimbledon, where she lost in the second round. She then had shoulder surgery in October.

"I'm definitely a little bit - little sore, but I'll be fine," Sharapova said. "That's why the Grand Slams are great. You have a day in between, day to recover, and that always helps the body."

On Sunday, it was Sharapova's mental strength that impressed Li more than her physical prowess.

"She was always fighting, doesn't matter how was the score," said Li, who was up a break in the third set. "I lost the first set, win second set easy, and then 4-2 up (in the third). Then maybe I lose a little bit concentration."

Besides her ailing shoulder, Sharapova also called for a trainer to look at her left thigh after breaking Li to 4-3 in the third.

"My thigh just was a little bit sore. I just needed to put some hot cream on it to forget that anything was wrong," said Sharapova, who can complete a career Grand Slam by winning the French Open title.

But the thought of winning her fourth major title isn't getting to her just yet.

"I think expectations are just words, and so is pressure," said the 22-year-old Sharapova, who has dropped to No. 102 in the rankings because of her injury layoff.

"I'm here to get the job done, and my job isn't done."


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