American youngster Sloane Stephens dispatched World No.3 Maria Sharapova from the Western and Southern Masters 1000 event in Cincinnati with a 2-6 7-6(5) 6-3 victory over the Russian.
Stephens, who is ranked 17th in the world, has been making waves on the WTA tour over the last 2 seasons with numerous inspiring performances that have led many to believe that she would be the face of American women’s tennis after Serena Williams.
The fact that Sharapova was coming off a 7-week layoff following a hip injury, also may have had a part to play in the Russian’s demise; this was her first tournament appearance since that 2nd round loss at Wimbledon 2013.
“Obviously I didn’t lose today because I didn’t implement what we were working on,” Sharapova said. “The things that we’re working on … are to improve with the game I have.”
“So, obviously, it’s tough to lose at this stage but just got to keep working hard and keep moving forward.” added Sharapova.
The Russian star has also recently gotten 9-time Grand Slam champion Jimmy Connors on board her coaching team, but there was nothing much the American great could do as he watched Stephens recover from losing the first set to inflict an early loss on Sharapova.
Sharapova was left to rue some uncharacteristic errors on her part, but refused to have the lengthy layoff as an excuse.
“I stopped being patient and I started making a lot more errors, errors that I shouldn’t make,” said Sharapova.
“Obviously I haven’t played in a long time but I can’t make that excuse for myself because I’ve got to be ready from the first match. So it’s obviously disappointing, but that’s the way it goes in this game.”
There were no such problems for World No.2 Victoria Azarenka, as she made her first appearance on the American hard-courts. The Belarussian breezed through her match against American Vania King 6-1 7-6(6) to make it into the 3rd round.
In the upset of the day, former World No. 1 and 15th seed Ana Ivanovic was beaten by Frenchwoman Alize Cornet 2-6 7-6 (8) 6-4. Belgian 13th seed Kirsten Flipkens also fell early losing 3-6 6-1 6-3 to Russia’s Elena Vesnina.
14-Jelena Jankovic (Serbia) beat Sabine Lisicki (Germany) 7-6(5) 5-7 6-2
10-Caroline Wozniacki (Denmark) beat Peng Shuai (China) 6-1 6-1
Monica Niculescu (Romania) beat Yanina Wickmayer (Belgium) 6-1 6-2
Magdalena Rybarikova (Slovakia) beat Julia Goerges (Germany) 6-2(0) 4-6 6-4
Ekaterina Makarova (Russia) beat Annika Beck (Germany) 6-3 6-2
Jamie Hampton (U.S.) beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (Russia) 7-5 4-6 6-3
Polona Hercog (Slovenia) beat Dominika Cibulkova (Slovakia) 6-2 6-4
Andrea Petkovic (Germany) beat Daniela Hantuchova (Slovakia) 2-6 6-4 6-1
Varvara Lepchenko (U.S.) beat Flavia Pennetta (Italy) 6-2 2-6 6-2
Mona Barthel (Germany) beat Lucie Safarova (Czech Republic) 6-3 6-4Published 14 Aug 2013, 12:24 IST