US Open 2018: Maria Sharapova beaten by birthday girl Carla Suarez Navarro in New York

Tennis

Maria Sharapova, the 2006 champion, had never lost a night session match in New York prior to her first Grand Slam meeting with Suarez Navarro.

Shared News | Published: September 4, 2018 8:55:42 am

Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro celebrated her 30th birthday in style at the US Open on Monday by beating Russian Maria Sharapova 6-4 6-3 to book her place in the quarter-finals. Sharapova, the 2006 champion, had never lost a night session match in New York prior to her first Grand Slam meeting with Suarez Navarro. “Thank you so much guys,” Suarez Navarro said courtside after being wished happy birthday by the crowd. “It’s the first time I’ve played this year at night. I’m very happy because I played a good match.”


 

Five-times Grand Slam champion Sharapova paid the price for 38 unforced errors and won less than half of her first serve points while committing eight double faults. “I didn’t take care of the chances that I had,” the Russian told reporters. “By chances, I mean the balls that were a little bit shorter.

“I hesitated to move forward. The balls where I did attack, I made unforced errors, especially on that inside-out forehand today.” With her most potent weapon not firing, Sharapova succumbed in one hour and 31 minutes under the floodlights at the Arthur Ashe Stadium, allowing 30th seed Suarez Navarro to record just her second career victory over the Russian in six attempts.


 

“Maria is a really good player. I mean, she’s one of the best. I’m happy to beat her tonight,” Suarez Navarro said. “Sometimes on this court, it is easy to (get confused). Well, the crowd, the music, it’s crazy. It’s a really good show, but for the players sometimes it’s tough, especially for me.

“I just tried to be focused. I tried to think about not too much things, just my work, my job. Today it worked.” The Spaniard will meet last year’s runner up Madison Keys in the quarters and knows she will be the underdog against the 14th seeded American.


 

“It will be a really tough match. She is from the United States so the crowd will probably help her,” Suarez Navarro added. “I need to be aggressive … try to be solid, run and fight. This is the way that I can play really good tennis. I have the character inside, sometimes I have to show more but, well, I’m working on that.”

Osaka reaches first Grand Slam quarter-final
Japan’s Naomi Osaka reached her first Grand Slam quarter-final by beating Aryna Sabalenka 6-3 2-6 6-4 in a pressure-packed clash of two hard-serving 20-year-old prospects. Osaka, who won the Indian Wells Masters tournament in March, fired nine aces and produced 32 unforced errors, 10 fewer than her Belarussian opponent, in a gusty defensive performance.



 
Sabalenka, who saved three break points in the final set, flung her racket in dismay after committing a double-fault on match point, handing victory to her 19th-ranked opponent. An emotional Osaka wiped tears from her eyes in an on-court interview, thanking the crowd and saying she would not have forgiven herself had she lost.

“I was just thinking I have to fight for every point; even if I break a leg I should try to get to every ball,” she said. Osaka said Sabalenka’s blistering serve had been a key challenge to overcome toward the end of the match.

“I felt like I had a lot of chances to break her in the third set, then she would serve these really amazing serves. Like a part of me knew it was coming, but at the same time I was always very unprepared,” Osaka said. “I’m just real glad I was able to win in the end.” She next faces Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine.


 

Madison Keys crushes Cibulkova to reach US Open quarters
Madison Keys maintained her dominance over Slovakian Dominika Cibulkova with a 6-1 6-3 victory on Monday to reach the US Open quarter-finals. The 14th-seeded American, looking to go one better than her runner-up finish at Flushing Meadows last year, relied on both her dangerous serve and powerful groundstrokes to deny Cibulkova any chance of an upset win.

Cibulkova, who arrived on the Arthur Ashe Stadium court brimming with confidence after toppling Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber in the previous round, countered with a similarly aggressive game to little avail. With the US Open’s heat advisory put back into effect, the pair traded punishing groundstrokes under the blazing sun and it was Cibulkova who was often pinned well behind the baseline and at the mercy of her opponent.



 
“The biggest thing is just being able to push her back off of the baseline where she likes to hold her ground and just be able to dictate points like that,” Keys told reporters. Keys started the match by holding in the first game and then doubled her lead after a 14-minute game that featured four game points for Cibulkova, who was baking on the sunny side of the court, and five break points for the American.

Keys has been solid in New York, 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. Cibulkova, who had not reached this stage of the year’s final Grand Slam since reaching the last eight in 2010, pulled ahead 3-2 in the second set but Keys stormed home from there and clinched the win on her second match point when the Slovak sent a forehand wide.


“I just couldn’t get into my game. I felt like when I had a chance to go for it, I just made mistakes because I was rushing. Sometimes I felt like I was just not going for it enough,” Cibulkova told reporters. “As always… (in a) match against Keys, (it’s) hard for me to play my game and to get into the rhythm and just do what I do best on court.”

With the win, Keys improved to 5-0 lifetime against Cibulkova and becomes only the second woman, after Kerber, to reach the quarter-finals or better at three of the four Grand Slams this year. Next up for Keys, who was routed by Sloane Stephens in last year’s final, is the winner of the evening clash between five-times Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova and Spanish 30th seed Carla Suarez Navarro.



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