Australian Open 2014: Sharapova loses to Cibulkova in round four
Australian Open 2014: Maria Sharapova crashes out after a surprise defeat by Slovakia's Dominika Cibulkova
Maria Sharapova crashed out of the Australian Open following a surprise fourth-round defeat by Slovakia’s Dominika Cibulkova.
The Russian 26-year-old lost 3-6 6-4 6-1 in an error-strewn display on Rod Laver Arena, 24 hours after five-time champion Williams was beaten by Ana Ivanovic.
I have to look at the positives and see where I have come from in four or five months
Sharapova took a medical timeout ahead of the final set, before 20th seed Cibulkova sealed the win in two hours and 12 minutes.
“I have a bit of a strain, the trainer told me, in the hip area,” said Sharapova. “Those aches and pains are expected when you spend a long time on the court. You just have to play through it.
“I haven’t been playing the best tennis of this tournament, but I found ways to get through to the last two matches. I tried to do that again today, but she played extremely well.”
Sharapova, who was playing only her second tournament since missing the second half of 2013 with hip and shoulder injuries, continued: “I think the tournament is a success in terms of that I’m back and that I’m healthy. That’s quite important. Otherwise I wouldn’t give myself a chance to play.
“I have to look at the positives and see where I have come from in four or five months. I haven’t played a lot of tennis in those six months.
“I certainly would have loved to play a little bit more before playing a Grand Slam, but this is the chance that I was given.
“I’m smart enough to be able to take it and acknowledge that I’m still pretty lucky to be in the draw and giving myself a chance to try to win it.”
Cibulkova will face Romania’s Simona Halep in her first Australian Open quarter-final.
Elsewhere, Victoria Azarenka remains on course for a third straight title in Melbourne after a 6-3 6-2 win over American Sloane Stephens.
“I’m happy with the way I played,” said Azarenka. “I think we were very competitive today. I know that Sloane is a great player, a very tough fighter.
“It was important just to stay in that zone and try to create another opportunity. I felt that I been able to do that.”