New York, Sept. 4:
Carla Suarez Navarro has celebrated her 30th birthday in style by ending Maria Sharapova’s unbeaten record in night session matches at the US Open to book a quarter-final berth.
The Spanish 30th seed took advantage of an error-prone Sharapova to secure a 6-4, 6-3 victory.
“It’s the first time I’ve played this year at night. I’m very happy because I played a good match,” Suarez Navarro said in her on-court interview.
Sharapova, the 2006 champion, took a 23-0 night record at Flushing Meadows into the match but won less than 50 per cent of points on her first serve and gifted Suarez Navarro 38 unforced errors.
“I didn’t take care of the chances that I had,” the Russian told reporters. “By chances, I mean the balls that were a little bit shorter.
“I hesitated to move forward. The balls where I did attack, I made unforced errors, especially on that inside-out forehand today.”
With her most potent weapons failing her, Sharapova succumbed in one hour and 31 minutes at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
“Maria is a really good player. I mean, she’s one of the best. I’m happy to beat her tonight,” Suarez Navarro said.
The Spaniard will meet last year’s runner-up Madison Keys in the quarters and knows she will be the underdog against the 14th seeded American.
“I need to be aggressive … try to be solid, run and fight. This is the way that I can play really good tennis,” Suarez Navarro said.
Keys cruised to a 6-1, 6-3 victory over Slovakia’s Dominika Cibulkova earlier on Monday, relying on her serve and powerful groundstrokes to overpower the Slovakian.
With the US Open’s heat advisory put back into effect, the pair traded punishing groundstrokes under the blazing sun with Keys dominating the 76-minute match.
Naomi Osaka reached her first grand slam quarter-final with a 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 victory over fellow 20-year-old Aryna Sabalenka.
“I’ve always dreamed of playing here and going to the quarter-finals and further. So I’m just glad I could do one of my goals,” the 20th-seeded Osaka said.
The Japanese next plays unseeded Ukrainian Lesia Tsurenko, who struggled with the heat in her 6-7 (3-7), 7-5, 6-2 defeat of Czech teenager Marketa Vondrousova, who accused the Ukrainian of putting on an act.
“I don’t know what to say. No, it wasn’t, unfortunately,” the unseeded Tsurenko said.
“I’ve never felt so bad on court. Today was one of the toughest matches in my life.”