Russian tennis player Maria Sharapova has been knocked out of the US Open. She was beaten 6-4 6-3 by Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro in the fourth round.
The five-time Grand Slam champion was broken three times in the first set and again at the start of the second.
Although Sharapova broke back in the third game, she dropped serve again. The Russian then went on to squander two break points while trailing 4-2.
The 2006 champion was then broken in the final game of the match to hand Suarez Navarro a perfect 30th birthday gift.
“It was a really good present for me,” said the Spaniard. “I want to have a happy birthday, and I have it.”
The 22nd seed has not advanced to the quarter-final stage of a Grand Slam since her return from a 15-month doping ban in April last year.
This loss meant that her 23-match winning streak has come to an end. Sharapova has also not gone beyond the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam since the 2015 Wimbledon semifinals.
She was beaten by world number 12 Garbine Muguruza 6-2 6-1 in the last eight at the French Open this year in a one-sided match.
The 31-year-old Russian is also yet to reach a WTA final in 2018 and has defeated only two top-10 seeds at tournaments this year.
Her last major title was in Paris in 2014 and it has been 12 years since she won her second Grand Slam title at the US Open as a 19-year-old in 2006.
With only two top-10 players left in the women’s draw – Czech eighth seed Karolina Pliskova and defending champion Sloane Stephens – another opportunity has passed the Russian.
Defeats by seeded players, including world number one Simon Halep in Italy, have ended her hopes of returning to the top this year and it could still yet be a long way back for Sharapova.
Progression to the quarter-finals at a second Grand Slam means Suarez Navarro makes 2018 her most successful year.
She was beaten by world number two Caroline Wozniacki in the Australian Open last eight in January before losing to Aryna Sabalenka in the final of the Connecticut Open last month.
The Spaniard also reached the quarter-finals of the Madrid Open and the prestigious Indian Wells Masters.
But when the New York crowd wished her a happy birthday following her victory over Sharapova on Monday, Suarez Navarro said she hoped to show more of her ‘character’ in the quarter-finals.
“I’m happy as I played a really good match, I really enjoyed this crowd,” she said.
“I need to be aggressive, I am working on that, I need to try to be solid, run and fight. This is the way that I can play really good tennis. I have the character inside, sometimes I have to show more, I’m working on that.
“It will be a really tough match [against American Keys]. The crowd will be with her. She has a really good forehand and she has played a final here so she has a lot of experience. I will try to enjoy the match like today.”