PARIS - Even for someone who struggles with a game plan, Maria Sharapova was probably surprised that she dropped serve nine times in a topsy-turvy 6-4 6-7 6-1 win over Czech Klara Zakopalova that sent her to the French Open quarter-finals on Monday.
Russian second seed Sharapova faced windy conditions and a fired-up opponent to advance, needing more than three hours to subdue the world number 44 and set up a last-eight meeting with either Estonian 23rd seed Kaia Kanepi or Dutchwoman Arantxa Rus.
Sharapova, who hired Thomas Hogstedt in December 2010 to coach her, was full of praise for the Swede, even if she is not the perfect student.
"I'm useless with game plans. That's probably the one thing he just gets so frustrated with me about," Sharapova, who will take over from Victoria Azarenka as world number one if she reaches the final in Paris, told a news conference.
"I go out there and I do my own thing, and then he's like, after the match, 'Really? What's the point of having me?'
"But I apologised when I hired him in advance, so he's okay."
There was nothing Hogstedt could do, however, about the swirling winds that disrupted play on Court Philippe Chatrier.
Twenty-one of the 30 games went against serve as the players sometimes struggled to throw the ball properly and the geranium displays took a beating from gusts of wind.
"The conditions were difficult, so it was a good test for me. I had chances to finish it in two sets, and I didn't," said Sharapova, who is looking to complete her collection of grand slam titles.
However, the Russian acknowledged the conditions were not the only reasons why she struggled.
"She is dangerous. She can play well. When she hits the ball, I think some days she goes out there and goes for it, and it seems like everything just goes in and stays so low over the net," Sharapova said.
"A great example is when I was up in that first match point, she was just drilling the ball. I'm sure some other days she goes out and makes mistakes.
"And that's probably why she came to this tournament not seeded. But she is certainly dangerous."