Wozniacki eliminates Sharapova at U.S. Open
Maria Sharapova, usually the one wearing down opponents in the third set, couldn’t keep up on a steamy Sunday at the U.S. Open. Wozniacki won 6-4, 2-6, 6-2 in two hours, 37 minutes to get to her first Grand Slam quarterfinal in more than two years - and get back in the headlines for reasons other than her personal life.
“The season for me has been a little bit up and down,’’ she said, “and it’s so nice to kind of start feeling like I’m playing the way I want to.’’
Because of the heat, the players received a 10-minute break before the final set; Sharapova returned to the court late, arguing with the chair umpire after receiving a time violation warning. Perhaps sensing that she was fresher than the five-time major champion, Wozniacki later complained that Sharapova was dawdling between points.
Her tardiness seemed to swing the Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd’s support squarely in Wozniacki’s favor. When the 10th-seeded Dane broke Sharapova at love to go up 3-1 in the final set, she got a standing ovation from the fans and waved her arms to egg them on. Sharapova had appeared to hit a winner three times on that game’s final point only to have Wozniacki somehow chase down the ball. Finally, Sharapova put a volley into the net.
Wozniacki mixed in just enough aggression with her signature defense to keep the pressure on Sharapova in the final set.
“She’s very good at getting a lot of balls back and making you hit another one,’’ said Sharapova. “In the end, I went for a little too much.’’
She insisted the conditions didn’t bother her. Sharapova had been 17-6 in three-set matches this year, including her come-from-behind second-round victory here.
The fifth-seeded Sharapova’s loss leaves No. 1 Serena Williams as the only woman remaining of the top six.
After a sloppy first set with 21 unforced errors, Sharapova was painting the lines in the second. Wozniacki seemed to spend most of the set watching in dismay as one of Sharapova’s 22 winners whizzed by.
Wozniacki said she told herself before the third set to go for her shots.
“If I’m going to lose,’’ she recalled thinking, “at least I’m going to do it with dignity.’’
She closed out the match by breaking Sharapova’s serve again with a backhand winner. About a half-hour later, thunderstorms halted play with second-seeded Roger Federer down a break in the first set to Marcel Granollers.
Federer acknowledged the two-hour delay helped him regroup. While Granollers won the first set, Federer dominated the rest of the way, winning 4-6, 6-1, 6-1, 6-1.
Unlike the women’s draw, the men’s side didn’t lose a top-10 player until Sunday, when fourth-seeded David Ferrer was upset by Gilles Simon in the third round 6-3, 3-6, 6-1, 6-3. Sixth-seeded Tomas Berdych swept 62nd-ranked Teymuraz Gabashvili 6-3, 6-2, 6-4.
Dominic Thiem, 20, made his first Grand Slam Round of 16 with a 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 win over 19th-seeded Feliciano Lopez. Another first was achieved in the women’s draw by Peng Shuai, who had never been to a major quarterfinal before beating 14th-seeded Lucie Safarova 6-3, 6-4.
Wozniacki will next face 13th-seeded Sara Errani, who ended the run of qualifier Mirjana Lucic-Baroni with a 6-3, 2-6, 6-0 victory.
As a 19-year-old, Wozniacki made the 2009 U.S. Open final, losing to Kim Clijsters, and reached No. 1 in the world the next year. But she hadn’t been back to a Grand Slam quarterfinal since the 2012 Australian Open.
In the meantime, she was best known for getting engaged to star golfer Rory McIlroy - then getting dumped in late May after wedding invitations had gone out.
Wozniacki lost in the first round at the French Open soon thereafter and was upset in the fourth round at Wimbledon.
She has played much better since, though, winning her first title in nine months at Istanbul, then dropping a pair of three-set matches to Williams.