Stosur next up for giant-killer Cibulkova
Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia downed top seed Victoria Azarenka of Belarus to pull off a major upset in fourth round action at the French Open on Sunday.
The 15th seed won 6-2, 7-6 (7/4) to set up a quarterfinal match with US Open champion Samantha Stosur of Australia who defeated US teenager Sloane Stephens of the United States 7-5, 6-4.
Azarenka won the Australian Open in January and had been expected to coast past Cibulkova having beaten her seven times out of eight previously.
But the little Slovakian, who reached the semifinals in 2009, handled the cold, windy conditions on the Suzanne Lenglen court far better than the tall Belarusian.
After losing the first set, Azarenka appeared to be getting back on track as she broke to lead 2-0 in the second, but 23-year-old Cibulkova dug deep to run off four games in a row.
Azarenka levelled at 4-4, with the set then going to a tie-break which a pumped-up Cibulkova led from the start to pull off a stunning win.
"I am getting more mature and more tough mentally," said Cibulkova, explaining that she had learned from the experience of losing to Azarenka in Miami earlier this year when leading a set and 5-2.
"I managed to go through these emotions. She was 6-5 up, and I said, hey, come on, you have to play your game again and just make it.
"And for the tiebreak I'm very, very proud of myself that I was still going for my shots, and I just made it because she would never give me the match.
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Azarenka said: "It wasn't satisfying at all, not satisfying being out there playing like that. I do not know what to find positive in that. No excuses, just a bad performance."
Earlier Sara Errani of Italy and Angelique Kerber of Germany both reached the quarterfinals at Roland Garros for the first time with straight sets wins.
Errani, seeded 21, defeated Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia 6-0, 7-5, while 10th seed Kerber ousted Petra Martic of Croatia 6-3, 7-5.
The pair will meet in the last eight in a top half of the draw which had also contained Azarenka.
Errani has been the form player on clay this year winning tournaments in Acapulco, Barcelona and Budapest. She also reached the Australian Open quarterfinals in January on hardcourts.
The win over 2009 French Open champion Kuznetsova followed her three sets win over 2008 winner and 13th seed Ana Ivanovic in the previous round.
"Now I have to keep my feet on the ground," Errani said in a post on her website after the Kuznetsova match.
"I won two good matches, but now I have to be just as good at staying focused and charged. I am very happy, but most of all I'm curious to find out to what level I can get. I honestly do not even know myself."
Kerber, a semifinalist at the US Open last year, was always on top of Martic, ranked 50th in the world although she had to dig deep after the Croatian started to make a better fight of it in the second set.
The left-handed Kerber finally secured her quarterfinal place on her third match point with a forehand winner on a poor return by the Croatian, who suffered nine double faults on her way to elimination.
Asked what was the reason behind her sudden charge up the world rankings in the last 12 months Kerber replied: "After the US Open I started to believe in myself more and I started to do more practice and fitness things.
"I know that I can beat the top players and now I am one of them. I think that nobody wants to play against me right now."