Out of breath and out of sorts, Venus Williams played her way right out of the French Open on Friday with her most lopsided Grand Slam loss since 2001.
That the No. 3-seeded Williams would exit in the third round at Roland Garros is not quite so extraordinary, perhaps, considering she now has exited this particular Grand Slam tournament at this precise stage in four of the past five years.
That Williams would lose the way she did - 6-0, 6-4 - and to the player she did - 29th-seeded Agnes Szavay, whose resume boasts a lone major quarterfinal appearance - was anything but ordinary.
"I'm used to beating people 6-0. I'm not used to my shot not going in and losing a set 6-0," Williams said. "So it completely was foreign ground for me."
The red clay of Paris often feels that way to the older Williams sister, whose seven Grand Slam singles titles were earned at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. Based on seeding and name, her departure qualifies as by far the tournament's most significant.
Hours later, Maria Sharapova appeared headed in the same direction. Like Williams, Sharapova hasn't won the French Open, and she, too, slogged through three sets in each of her first two matches this week, then looked awful at the start Friday.
But Sharapova, surgically repaired right shoulder and all, did what Williams couldn't: She pulled herself together and moved into the fourth round. Sharapova came back to beat 98th-ranked Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan 1-6, 6-3, 6-4.
While Sharapova found herself in yet another two-hour-plus test, No. 1 Dinara Safina and defending champ Ana Ivanovic won easily. Four-time reigning champ Rafael Nadal made things look simple against former No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt, beating him 6-1, 6-3, 6-1, and No. 3 Andy Murray, No. 8 Fernando Verdasco, No. 10 Nikolay Davydenko and No. 12 Fernando Gonzalez also reached the fourth round.
Murray advanced when Janko Tipsarevic retired. Murray was ahead 7-6 (3), 6-3.