Maria Sharapova has been unable to find her mojo since returning from her doping ban for using a Russian super soldier serum in 2017.
The oft-injured former No. 1 has reached only one semifinal in 2018, and on Monday was eliminated in the fourth round of the US Open by No. 30 seed Carla Suarez Navarro 6-4, 6-3.
“I thought she played a great match,” said the No. 22-seeded Sharapova, who sprayed 38 unforced errors over two sets. “She did many things well. She was consistent when she had to be. She forced me to make mistakes. She moves extremely well. Those are all the things that I think we all know going into a match-up against someone like Carla.”
The 31-year-old Sharapova had won her last three meetings with Suarez Navarro.
The Spaniard, not known for her power, had the same number of winners as Sharapova.
“I tried to play aggressive, tried to be focus on my game,” Suarez Navarro said. “Sometimes it’s difficult when you go on this amazing court for the first time. I tried to play aggressive, to be solid sometimes because she hit fast the ball. I have to run and fight. But I think I made a really complete match from the beginning until the end. I’m happy with the way I play tonight.”
She will next meet the No. 14 seed and last year’s runner-up Madison Keys, who improved to 4-0 career against No. 29 seed Dominika Cibulkova after a 6-1, 6-3 win.
Keys had a nifty 25 winners to 15 unforced errors, and when asked if she would watch the Sharapova-Suarez Navarro match, said, “I’m going to go actually eat dinner in the city instead.”
The other unlikely quarterfinal will be No. 20 seed Naomi Osaka against unseeded Lesia Tsurenko. Osaka worked past No. 29 seed Aryna Sabalenka 6-3, 2-6, 6-4, and Tsurenko defeated unseeded teen Marketa Vondrousova 6-7(7), 7-5, 6-2.
Tsurenko, who earlier in the tournament ousted No. 2 seed Caroline Wozniacki, looked down and out in the first set before engineering a remarkable recovery in the high heat.
“I think it was some type of heat illness or something like that,” Tsurenko said. “I have to say that I’ve never felt so bad on court. This was something new for me. I usually handle any kind of weather without any problem. But today was one of the toughest matches in my life. At the beginning of the second set, I could feel like a breeze, like a little wind, and it was cooler. Then I saw the shade, and I thought, ‘Okay, I will try. I give myself some hope.’ I think the good thing that I decide to keep fighting, and then I was feeling better and better, and I came back to the match.”
Osaka ended Sabalenka’s eight-match winning streak in the battle of 20 year olds.
“I’ve always dreamed of playing here and going to the quarterfinals and further,” Osaka said. “So I’m just glad I could do one of my goals.”
Quarterfinal matches on Thursday will see (3) Sloane Stephens vs. (19) Anastajisa Sevastova, and (8) Karolina Piskova vs. (17) Serena Williams.
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