Muguruza and Sharapova crash out of US Open

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    Maria Sharapova’s controversial US Open campaign has come to a crashing halt after the 2006 champion was defeated in three sets by Latvian 16th seed Anastasija Sevastova.

    There has been divided opinion surrounding the Russian’s return to the big stage after she completed a 15-month doping ban relating to the use of meldonium in April this year.

    Rival players, including Caroline Wozniacki and Agnieszka Radwanska, have been unforgiving, while Eugenie Bouchard was the strongest critic, branding her a “cheater” who should never be allowed to play the sport again.

    However, her return to the sport has not been met without any support, with Victoria Azarenka and Serena Williams among those in favour of her presence and with the majority of fans seeming to agree too, if the reception Sharapova has received at the US Open is anything to go by.

    Her run at Flushing Meadows finally came to an end when she lost in three sets to Latvia’s Anastasija Sevastova on Monday morning (AEST), but she is expected to jump around 100 places back into or just outside the top 50 when the rankings are updated at the end of the tournament.

    Sevastova will next face Sloane Stephens, who also required three sets to defeat Germany’s Julia Goerges and in the process reach the quarter-finals at her home Grand Slam tournament for the first time.

    It is also the first time Stephens, who was ranked in the 900s when she launched her comeback at the All England Club two months ago, has reached a major quarter-final since Wimbledon in 2013.

    Meanwhile, the title hopes of third seed Garbine Muguruza have also been dashed after the Wimbledon champion went down in straight sets to 13th seed Petra Kvitova.

    The Spaniard led 4-1 in the first set but was pegged to a tiebreak, which Kvitova, the two-time Wimbledon champion, would take by seven points to three.

    The Czech, who missed a third of the season after suffering a violent hand injury shortly before Christmas last year, then dominated the second set to line up a quarter-final blockbuster against Venus Williams, a three-set winner over another Spaniard, Carla Suarez Navarro, earlier in the day.

    It will be their first meeting since Wimbledon in 2014, when Kvitova won a three-set third-round thriller en route to claiming her second title at the All England Club.

    Quite surprisingly Kvitova has dominated the head to head, winning four of their five meetings, with Venus’ only victory coming in the Miami Open way back in 2012 when she was on the road to recovery from illness.

    Whoever wins their quarter-final match-up will just about assume favouritism to reach the final from the bottom half of the draw.

    The US Open remains the only major tournament in which Kvitova has yet to reach the semi-finals, but despite her good record against Venus Williams, the 27-year-old will still have her work cut out for her.

    (Image: Tatiana / CC BY-SA 2.0)

    Meanwhile, in the upset-ravaged bottom half of the men’s draw, Diego Schwartzman and Pablo Carreno Busta lined up a quarter-final clash against each other after victories over Lucas Pouille and Denis Shapovalov respectively.

    South African Kevin Anderson also reached his second US Open quarter-final in three years, where Sam Querrey will await him after defeating Mischa Zverev in straight sets.

    The quarter-final picture is set to look clearer when all fourth-round matches in the top halves of both the men’s and women’s draws are completed on Tuesday morning (AEST).

    Matches to watch on Day 8

    Arthur Ashe Stadium
    Day session – play starts at 11:00am (Tuesday 1:00am AEST)
    Karolina Pliskova [1] (CZE) versus Jennifer Brady (USA)
    Rafael Nadal [1] (ESP) [1] versus Alexandr Dolgopolov (UKR)
    CoCo Vandeweghe [20] (USA) versus Lucie Safarova (CZE)
    Night session – play starts at 7:00pm (9:00am AEST)
    Roger Federer [3] (SUI) versus Philipp Kohlschreiber [33] (GER)
    Elina Svitolina [4] (UKR) versus Madison Keys [15] (USA)

    Louis Armstrong Stadium
    Not before 12:00pm (2:00am AEST)
    David Goffin [9] (BEL) versus Andrey Rublev (RUS)
    Daria Kasatkina (RUS) versus Kaia Kanepi (EST)

    Play starts at 11:00am (1:00am AEST)
    One junior girls’ match, two men’s doubles matches, followed by
    Juan Martin del Potro [24] (ARG) versus Dominic Thiem [6] (AUT)

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