US Open

Wozniacki floors Sharapova

2014-09-01 07:59
Caroline Wozniacki (AFP)

New York - Five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova joined the exodus of US Open women's top seeds on Sunday, succumbing in three sets to former world number one Caroline Wozniacki.

The 10th-seeded Dane booked a quarter-final berth with a 6-4, 2-6, 6-2 triumph on a steamy Arthur Ashe Stadium court, not long before thunderstorms stopped play for some two hours.

When matches resumed, China's unseeded Peng Shuai and Swiss teenager Belinda Bencic set up an unlikely quarter-final clash with victories over seeded opponents.

Peng, who had toppled fourth-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska in the second round, upended 14th-seeded Czech Lucie Safarova 6-3, 6-4, while Bencic dismissed former world number one and ninth seed Jelena Jankovic 7-6 (8/6), 6-3.

But the biggest shocker of the day was the exit of Sharapova at the hands of Wozniacki, who notched her third victory over the Russian in eight career meetings but her first since 2011.

"It means so much to me," said Wozniacki, the 2009 runner-up who reached the semi-finals in 2010 and 2011 but hadn't been past the third round at Flushing Meadows the last two years.

"It's been a bit up and down for me this season," added the Dane, who in addition to some indifferent results had to cope with the abrupt and highly publicised end of her engagement to golfer Rory McIlroy.

"To win today against a champion like Maria is an unbelievable feeling."

The hot, humid conditions were so oppressive that the players were granted a break in the locker room before the third set.

When they returned, Wozniacki shrugged off Sharapova's second-set surge, breaking the fifth seed to love in the fourth game for a 3-1 lead.

"When we had that break, I said 'OK, win or lose I'm going to go for my shots," Wozniacki said. "I'm going to go for it. This is the only chance I have to win. If I'm going to lose, at least I'm going to do it with dignity."

She broke Sharapova again in the final game to seal the victory -- smacking a backhand winner on match point.

She'll play 13th-seeded Italian Sara Errani for a semi-final berth.
Errani ended the magical run of 32-year-old Croatian qualifier Mirjana Lucic-Baroni 6-3, 2-6, 6-0.

The Italian came up with just four outright winners to the 46 of Lucic-Baroni - but also committed only nine unforced errors to the 69 of her opponent.

In the first set, Errani put 100 percent of her first serves in play. Asked how she managed that in the windy weather, Errani said she couldn't afford not to.

"I serve slowly, so I have to put mine in," she said.

Just three of the top 10 women's seeds remain in the last eight - world number one and two-time defending champion Serena Williams, seventh-seeded Canadian Eugenie Bouchard and Wozniacki.

Peng coped admirably with the minor confusions of the rain delay, which included moving her match from the Grandstand court to the smaller court five.

Peng, who had five Grand Slam fourth-round appearances on her resume but had never cracked the quarter-finals, fired nine aces past her Czech opponent - including one on match point to seal the win after 71 minutes.

"Amazing! I'm so happy, so excited," the softly-spoken Tianjin native said. "All the time in Grand Slams I think maybe I can take one more step, one more step."

She converted both of her break opportunities - one in each set - and saved the only break point she faced in the contest.

Bencic played her first match on the massive Ashe court.

After some early nerves she found her range, breaking Jankovic as the Serb served for the opening set and going on to take the tiebreaker on her third set point.

Bencic broke Jankovic a total of six times in the match, including in the final game when she gave herself a match point with a crisp passing shot then fired a backhand winner for the triumph.

"I just tried to play the match point like it was a normal point, but I was so tight," said beaming youngster, the youngest quarter-finalist since Martina Hingis in 1997.

"It was always a dream to play on this court. I watched it as a kid and I always wanted to play here."


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