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.
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.
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 appeared to have a problem, clutching her left side.
The Slovak held and the pressure on Sharapova, who was broken again in the fifth and could find no way back into the match.