- POSTED: 20 Jan 2014 11:50
- UPDATED: 20 Jan 2014 14:13
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Injury-hit third seed Maria Sharapova was stunned at the Australian Open by Slovak Dominika Cibulkova on Monday, the second major upset in as many days.
MELBOURNE: Injury-hit third seed Maria Sharapova was stunned at the Australian Open by Slovak Dominika Cibulkova on Monday, the second major upset in as many days.
The Russian, who took a medical timeout between the second and third sets, crashed in the fourth round 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 against the 20th seed to follow Serena Williams out of the tournament.
Cibulkova had never been beyond the fourth round in six previous attempts in Melbourne, although she has made the last eight at all the other three Grand Slams.
Sharapova revealed she had a problem with her hip, having just returned from a major shoulder injury this month, but said she was upbeat and happy just to be playing.
"I think it's a success (the tournament) in terms of that I'm back and that I'm healthy. That's quite important. Otherwise I wouldn't give myself a chance to play," she said.
"So I certainly would have loved to play a little bit more before playing a Grand Slam, but this is the chance that I was given."
Her shock loss sets up a quarter-final between Cibulkova and Romanian 11th seed Simona Halep, who beat Serbia's Jelena Jankovic in straight sets.
"I was 100 per cent sure I could win. I never doubted myself even when I lost the first set," said the Slovak. "I knew what I needed to do. The most important thing is to believe in yourself."
She added that breaking her Melbourne Park jinx by making the last eight for the first time was also satisfying.
"This is what I'm really, really happy for, you know. Finally, finally I made it."
In an error-strewn and see-sawing match, Cibulkova won five straight games in the second set and then lost the next four.
After racing through the first set Sharapova, who has four major titles, with her last coming at the French Open in 2012, appeared to have a problem, clutching her left side.
"I have a bit of a strain the trainer told me in the hip area," she said afterwards.
"I mean, those aches and pains are expected when you spend a long time on the court. You just have to play through it."
The Russian had endured two tough matches before meeting the Slovak and she got off to the best possible start on Rod Laver Arena, making the most of an early Cibulkova double-fault to get the break.
Sharapova held with a powerful forehand down the line and while she put pressure on Cibulkova's next service game, the Slovak held firm to stay in touch.
It went with serve until the world number three again made the most of some feeble serving from Cibulkova to drill a forehand winner cross-court and go 5-2 in front and, after some serving wobbles, she secured the set.
Some of the serving was woeful and the Russian's first double-fault gave Cibulkova an early break in the second set, and she held to take a 2-0 lead.
All of a sudden, Sharapova's form deserted her. She could hardly win a point and went 5-0 down. Stunned, she pulled a break back and then held to make it 5-2 but she was unable to stop the set slipping away.
After a medical timeout at the changeover, the Russian was broken immediately with her movement appearing hindered.
The Slovak held and the pressure was on Sharapova, who was broken again in the fifth and could find no way back into the match.