Sharapova sent tumbling out of US Open by clinical Sevastova

Posted September 04, 2017

She ran into Anastasija Sevastova, the 16th seed, and lost a tough-fought three-setter, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2. She immediately took possession of the NY night (or shared it with Roger Federer) and was welcomed to Arthur Ashe stadium by adoring fans like a queen returning from exile.

This was only Sharapova's fifth tournament since her comeback from a 15-month doping ban in April because of injury and she exceeded most expectations by getting this far. Nobody had ever faced four in a row at any Grand Slam event.

"It's been a really great ride in the last week", Sharapova told reporters. "I don't think I played as aggressive or was stepping in as much as I did in the first set, especially in the beginning of the match".

The last point of the seventh game of the set was one to savour: twice, Sevastova switched the racket to her left hand to lob the incoming Sharapova; twice the Russian sped to retrieve it and was relieved to see her opponent's last party piece, a right-handed drop shot, hit the wrong side of the net. If you put me out in the parking lot of Queens in New York City, I'm happy to play there.

Next on the schedule for Sharapova is the WTA event in Beijing at the end of September as she attempts to build her ranking to ensure direct entry into the 2018 Australian Open.

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"For sure from past year, I only have great memories here", she said.

Playing just her fifth match since May, Sharapova was treated for apparent blisters early in the third set as 16th-seeded Sevastova surged into the quarter-finals in NY for the second year in a row. She needed surgery on her racket-holding hand and rejoined the tour at the French Open in May. It was an incredible opportunity.

Latvian Sevastova will now meet Sloane Stephens in the quarter-finals after winning on her fourth match point.

"Just competing, you know, being in that competitive environment".

"I only have great memories here", Sevastova said. I think she was playing one of the better matches here, one of the best matches here. That drew the "car park" response from Sharapova and, at times here, she played as if she had the limo revving up outside and ready to go.

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The former world No.1 is embracing the challenge of ending her nine-year grand slam title drought in what would be the longest wait between drinks at tennis's highest level. She lost to her younger sister Serena Williams at the Australian Open and to Garbine Muguruza at Wimbledon. Add in three saved break points, and she earned a 6-4 win to force a third set.

This was the biggest victory of Kvitova's return to competition after a knife attack by an intruder at her home in the Czech Republic in December.

The five-time grand slam champion was making her first major appearance since the 2016 Australian Open, having tested positive for a banned substance at Melbourne Park past year.

From there, Sevastova imposed her game.

Sharapova smacked a forehand victor to force deuce trailing 5-2 in the third set as Sevastova's nerves kicked in.

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"Obviously, I could never say, Oh, yeah, when I was coming back, I'm going to make two semifinals, a quarterfinal".