Defending champion Li Na of China lost 3-6, 6-2, 6-0 to Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan in the fourth round of the French Open.
PARIS — Behind the microphone, Li Na of China sighed.
She had no answers, only questions, like the reporters who packed around her, who wondered whether she had prepared properly for this French Open.
Li, the defending women’s singles champion at Roland Garros, did not play as if she were defending anything Monday. She played as if she were lost, then she did lose, in a spectacular collapse, 3-6, 6-2, 6-0 to Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan. Shvedova, a doubles specialist, entered the fourth-round match ranked 142nd in the world in singles.
The seventh-seeded Li fought back tears. She also battled with media, the edge her game lacked suddenly evident in her answers, the back-and-forth emotional and contentious. They kept returning to the French Open title she seized in 2011, the way it changed her life and ballooned her bank account.
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“You say I won last year,” Li said at a news conference. “It’s one year already. I just lose one match, so don’t try to push me down.”
With Li’s loss, the women’s singles draw had another presumed contender fall, the bracket even more wide open than before. Gone are top-seeded Victoria Azarenka, No. 3 Agnieszka Radwanska and No. 5 Serena Williams.
Russian Maria Sharapova, seeded second but often shaky on clay, needed three grueling sets filled with double faults and unforced errors to stave off unseeded Czech Klara Zakopalova 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 6-2 and advance to the quarterfinals. The match lasted 3 hours, 11 minutes.
Afterward, Sharapova discussed the tailored jacket she wore on court and copped to her diva reputation with a smile — “Glamour and diva. Hmm. Yeah, that’s me” — but she avoided directly answering questions about whether she should be considered the women’s favorite.
“I have no control of who wins and loses except on my matches,” she said.
Sharapova has won every Grand Slam tournament except this one.
She will assume the No. 1 ranking if she makes the final. The way this tournament has gone, that is far from a sure thing.
Some familiar names remain, such as Samantha Stosur, the reigning U.S. Open champion, and fourth-seeded Petra Kvitova. But with another day of tournament play concluded, it is harder, same as it has been harder each day, to look at the women’s draw and find either a favorite or an upset that would any longer be considered major.
This will be the fifth consecutive year the French Open has crowned a first-time women’s singles champion. That list included Li and Francesca Schiavone, the 2010 winner who lost to Varvara Lepchenko in the third round.
Asked why women’s singles champions struggle to repeat here, Li said she could not speak for the others. She said she needed to take a break before Wimbledon and “totally forget tennis.”
She added, “I’m not a machine.”
The men’s draw, on the other hand, has been quite formful.
Andy Murray, the No. 4 seed, defeated Richard Gasquet 1-6, 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 to reach the quarterfinals. He will face No. 6 David Ferrer, who beat Marcel Granollers 6-3, 6-2, 6-0. Second-seeded Rafael Nadal routed Juan Monaco 6-2, 6-0, 6-0.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the No. 5 seed, and No. 9 Juan Martin del Potro finished matches held over from Sunday and will have little time to dwell on them. On Tuesday, Tsonga faces No. 1 Novak Djokovic and del Potro meets No. 3 Roger Federer.