Ana Ivanovic’s upset of Serena Williams eliminated Maria Sharpova‘s big rival against whom she has lost all the 14 matches in the last ten years, but that was far from everything the Russian needed to clean the path to the Australian Open trophy again and already in the fourth round she fell to Dominika Cibulkova 3-6 6-4 6-1. The third-seeded Sharapova’s vulnerability in earlier rounds was evident and we knew she had to step it up, but seven double faults to zero aces in the decider certainly didn’t help.
Despite being broken at love when serving for the first set at 5-2, Sharapova managed to edge it out before her first serve percentage dipped from 76% in the first set to 52% in the second and she found herself trailing 5-0. She did then break Cibulkova twice in the set, but eventually lost it 6-4. After a medical timeout for a hip strain, Sharapova managed to win just one game in the decider and Cibulkova reached her first Australian Open quarterfinal.
The seed No.20 Cibulkova will next face eleventh seed and first-time Grand Slam quarterfinalist Simona Halep, whose opponent Jelena Jankovic easily won the second set before the Romanian regrouped and helped with her opponent’s unforced errors won the match 6-4 2-6 6-0. (photo: © Neal Trousdale)