The fate of two former Grand Slam champions was determined on Monday, with two different results.
Last year's champion and this year's No. 7 seed, Li Na, lost 3-6, 6-2, 6-0 to Yaroslava Shvedova, a qualifier from Kazakhstan.
Simultaneously, Maria Sharapova, the No. 2 seed, continued her bid to win her first French Open title as she defeated 44th-ranked Klara Zakopalova 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-2.
Sharapova lost only five games in her first three matches and faced no formidable challenge until Monday. She fought Zakopalova for 3 hours and 11 minutes through blustering wind and cool temperatures. The match featured 21 breaks of serves, and hard hitting from both women who finished the match with 82 combined winners.
Sharapova and Zakopalova previously faced each other on the clay courts of Madrid in May. Sharapova won that meeting 6-4, 6-3 thanks to consistent serving and aggressive shot making.
On Monday, however, Sharapova's typically penetrating and accurate serve was flawed with 12 double faults and a 63 percent first serve percentage. This allowed Zakopalova to take charge at key moments in the second set.
Despite hitting 23 unforced errors in the second set, Sharapova regrouped before the start of the final set and came out firing, winning the first three games of the decider.
In her career, Sharapova's success on clay courts has been limited because of her uncomfortable movement on the surface. This year, the Russian has been impressive with her court coverage, showing clay-court skills by confidently sliding to her shots.
Sharapova hit the ball early and hard, keeping Zakopalova on defense in the third set. Zakopalova could not respond to Sharapova's powerful shots, which often exceeded 80 miles per hour.
Sharapova's mental toughness and aggressive hitting allowed her to take control of the match and move past her first challenge of the tournament, making her one of the tournament favorites.
With No.1 Victoria Azarenka, 13-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams, and defending champion Na out of the tournament, this appears to be Sharapova's best chance to win the Grand Slam, which has eluded her for years. If she wins the tournament, she will have completed the career Grand Slam.
Sharapova will play the winner of the match between Arantxa Rus and Kaia Kanepi.