Published: Thu, September 06, 2018
Sport | By Ruben Hill

Sharapova out of US Open, loses perfect night-time record to birthday girl

Sharapova out of US Open, loses perfect night-time record to birthday girl

Former world number one and five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova's unbeaten streak during the night session at the US Open came to an abrupt end as she shockingly fell to the unheralded 30th seed Carla Suarez Navarro under the lights of the Arthur Ashe Stadium in straight sets.

Madison Keys (USA) bt Dominika Cibulkova (Svk) 6-1 6-3, Naomi Osaka (Jpn) bt Aryna Sabalenka (Blr) 6-3 2-6 6-4, Lesia Tsurenko (Ukr) bt Marketa Vondrousova (Cze) 6-7 (3-7) 7-5 6-2.

"Maria has played here at night many times so I knew I needed to be aggressive, focussed and play solid", said the 30th seeded Spaniard Suarez Navarro.

"Was a really good present for me".

The tears were also a legacy of the most painful result of her career in NY two years ago when she lost to Keys from 5-1 up in the final set. "I prepared well. I think I was completely ready for this tournament", she said.

That loss to Vitalia Diatchenko, the world number 132 at the time, at the All England Club was her first opening round Wimbledon defeat and earliest Grand Slam exit in eight years.

The 14th-seeded American, looking to go one better than her runner-up finish at Flushing Meadows previous year, relied on both her risky serve and powerful groundstrokes to deny Cibulkova any chance of an upset win.

When asked what was concerning her most about her game at the moment, she replied: 'I think not being able to consistently put up the level from one match to another, stringing obviously in a span of hopefully a total of seven matches during a Grand Slam.

"I definitely expected more from the Slams this year", said the 31-year-old.

Next up for Osaka is a last-eight meeting with the unseeded Tsurenko, but she is dreaming of a final against her hero. By 'chances, ' I mean the balls that were a little bit shorter.

The Russian, playing her fourth straight round-16 match in NY, the seventh in 12 attempts, her lowest success rate for reaching the second week out of all four Grand Slams, looked often fearful and out of position when she tried to clinch the point at the net. Two of her three WTA titles came post-2015 (Madrid Open in 2017 and Bucharest Open in 2018). "I hesitated to move forward", Sharapova said. She took long pauses between points in the first-set tiebreaker, then left the court for treatment after it.

Sharapova's serves started to crumble and she failed to find her first serves consistently in the first set before three consecutive double-faults saw the Russian being broken twice successively.

"It's no secret that Serena is my favourite", she said. She made me incorrect.

In the two-hour 32-minute match, which featured 13 breaks of serve, Tsurenko committed 57 unforced errors while 19-year-old Vondrousova hit a huge 73.

Keys has been solid in NY, having dropped a single set through four matches, and turned it up a notch against her 29th-seeded opponent as she lost only 10 points on serve during a 76-minute match in which she was broken once.

Like this: