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Sports

French Open: Djokovic and Nadal prepare for quarterfinal tussle, Sharapova exits

The 2014 finalists meet in the last-eight of the French Open as the tournament begins to hot up. Djokovic is looking to join a club of one who have beaten Nadal in Paris.

Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal will go head-to-head in a repeat of last year's French Open final in the quarterfinals at Roland Garros.

Nadal, hunting his 10th French Open title, beat the Serb 3–6, 7–5, 6–2, 6–4 in last summer's final but has dropped to sixth-seed due to injuries and poor performances. Djokovic has won his last 26 matches and was crowned Australian Open champion in January, while also holding the Wimbledon crown.

"The winner of the match will not be Roland Garros champion. He will be a semi-finalist... that makes a big difference," said Nadal who last just once at Roland Garros. "Novak is probably the favorite here but I am here to fight."

The Spaniard defeated Jack Sock 6-3 6-1 5-7 6-2, whilst Djokovic cruised past 20th-seeded Richard Gasquet in three sets. "I'm not used to playing him that early, but that's the reality and that's a challenge that both of us have to accept," the Serb said.

Elsewhere, fourth-seed Murray reaches his 17th consecutive Grand Slam quarterfinal and will be tested against experienced Spaniard David Ferrer who defeated US Open winner Marin Cilic.

"I will have to play great tennis to beat him," said Murray who acknowledged Ferrer's great pedigree on clay surfaces. "I'm sure both of us will have changed and improved. I have a better understanding of how I need to play on this surface now," he added.

Roger Federer, the 2009 champion, will face Stanislas Wawrinka in the quarterfinals after finishing the job against Frenchman Gael Monfils despite rain splitting the match over two days.

End of Sharapova's hopes

French Open Maria Scharapowa

Former Grand Slam champion Sharapova bows out amid illness

Last season's French Open champion Maria Sharapova won't be able to defend her crown any longer following a 7-6 (3), 6-4 loss to 13th-seeded Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic.

The five-time Grand Slam winner was visibly struggling with illness throughout her meeting with Safarova, but didn't look to give excuses for the defeat.

"I'm still a competitor no matter what. I'm going to do everything in order to go out and give it my best, and I think I did the best I could. Today it wasn't enough, because my opponent had a different gear than I did," Sharapova said.

After reaching her first quarterfinal at Roland Garros, Safarova will face No. 21 Garbine Muguruza of Spain. Meanwhile, Serena Williams remains on course for her 20th Grand Slam title as he marched into the last-eight draw with a three-set win over compatriot Sloane Stephens.

Looking for a place in the semifinals, Williams will take on Italy's 17th seed Sara Errani.