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Maria Sharapova shocked in Paris semis

Story highlights

  • World No. 5 Maria Sharapova loses to compatriot Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in French event
  • Pavlyuchenkova will play Sara Errani or Alize Cornet in Sunday's final
  • In men's Davis Cup, 2013 runner-up Serbia loses 3-0 to Switzerland in first round
  • Spain and Australia also exit by the same margin, losing to Germany and France
Maria Sharapova's wait for another WTA Tour title must continue after the four-time grand slam champion suffered a shock defeat in the semifinals of the Paris Open on Saturday.
Top seed Sharapova would have moved back to fourth in the world rankings by winning her 30th career crown this weekend, but was beaten 4-6 6-3 6-4 by fellow Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
"I started the match really well, but as the match continued I wasn't doing the things that really helped me in the first set," said 2012 French Open champion Sharapova, who returned to the tour in January after missing the final third of last season with a shoulder injury.
"I wasn't being aggressive, I wasn't in the court -- she was playing with a lot of confidence in the match and I gave her that opportunity to play her game."
Since requiring shoulder surgery back in 2008, Sharapova has struggled for consistency with her serve, and that was apparent in Melbourne when she lost in the last 16 to eventual runner-up Dominika Cibulkova, and again in the French capital.
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The 26-year-old, whose last tournament win came last April in Stuttgart, ended the match with two double-faults.
"They obviously came at the wrong time," said Sharapova, who heads to her former home of Sochi on Sunday to start her role as a TV commentator at Russia's first Winter Olympics.
"When I was down in games in the first couple of sets I felt my serve really helped me, but in the third set I didn't keep that level up. I definitely need to improve that percentage going forward."
Pavlyuchenkova, ranked 26th, will next take on either Sara Errani at the indoor event as she seeks the sixth WTA title of her career -- but first in a Premier-level event.
"I had to serve well -- I had no choice today, because Maria has one of the best returns on the tour," she said.
"We played a few years ago and she broke me a lot of times."
Errani, beaten by Sharapova in the 2012 final at Roland Garros, battled to a 7-6 (7-3) 3-6 7-6 (7-5) win over Alize Cornet in just over three hours after the Frenchwoman battled back from 5-3 down in the decider.
Meanwhile, a weakened Serbian men's team crashed out the Davis Cup in the first round on Saturday, losing 3-0 to a Switzerland side bolstered by the presence of 17-time grand slam champion Roger Federer and Australian Open winner Stanislas Wawrinka.
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The Swiss didn't need to field their star duo in the doubles, in which Marco Chiudinelli and Michael Lanmer beat Nenad Zimonjic and Filip Krajinovic 7-6 (7-3) 3-6 7-6 (7-2) 6-2.
The Serbs, beaten by the Czech Republic in December's 2013 final, were missing rested world No. 2 Novak Djokovic, the injured Janko Tipsarevic and Viktor Troicki -- who is serving a ban for missing a drug test last year.
Germany also won 3-0, eliminating a Spain team missing world No. 1 Rafael Nadal, resting after suffering a back injury in his Melbourne final defeat against Wawrinka.
France beat Australia by the same margin, while the Czechs took a 2-1 lead against the Netherlands as Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek won their doubles rubber in four sets against Robin Haase and Jean-Julien Rojer.
Japan went 2-1 up against Canada, while Belgium reduced the deficit to the same score away to Kazakhstan.
In the other World Group first-round ties, Britain led the U.S. 2-0 after Friday's singles matches while Argentina and Italy were 1-1.