Australian Open: Maria Sharapova crashes out in Melbourne

Russian third seed Maria Sharapova was a champion at Melbourne Park in 2008.

Story highlights

  • Maria Sharapova suffers shock defeat at the Australian Open
  • The third seed loses in three sets to Slovakia's Dominika Cibulkova
  • World No. 1 Rafael Nadal into the quarterfinals after beating Japan's Kei Nishikori
  • Fourth seed Andy Murray also into the last eight with a win over Stephane Robert

First Serena Williams, now Maria Sharapova. Another day at the Australian Open, another top female star out of the season's first grand slam.

One day after world No. 1 Williams was dumped out in Melbourne, third seed Sharapova followed suit as she surrendered a one-set lead against Slovakia's Dominika Cibulkova to lose 3-6 6-4 6-1.

It was the second time 20th seed Cibulkova has beaten the Russian at a grand slam and Sharapova, who required treatment on a hip injury between the second and third sets, admitted her performances in Melbourne have not been good enough.

"I haven't been playing the best tennis of this tournament, but I found ways to get through to the last two matches," Sharapova, a winner of this tournament in 2008, told reporters.

"Tried to do that again today, but she played extremely well."

Sharapova, a four-time grand slam winner, refused to blame the injury for her surprise defeat.

"I don't think it's rocket science," added the 26-year-old. "Just when you play a lot of tennis, you're going to get these types of aches and pains and certain movements that you feel it on."

Cibulkova's reward for reaching the last eight at Melbourne Park for the first time in her career is a match against 11th seed Simona Halep, who also eliminated a top 10 player in world No. 8 Jelena Jankovic.

Sharapova's loss means double defending champion Victoria Azarenka is now the red hot favorite to win a third consecutive Australian Open title.

Azarenka's cause will be helped by cooler temperatures, with players finally granted respite from last week's scorching heat.

The world No. 2 is the only former champion left in the women's draw after she confidently dispatched American rising star Sloane Stephens 6-3 6-2.

Although her chief rivals for the title have been eliminated, Azarenka is taking nothing for granted ahead of a meeting with fifth seed Agnieszka Radwanska.

"The players who beat those players deserve all the credit because they've been better, so they are dangerous and they are competitive," said Belarus' Azarenka.

"For me it's important to just, you know, keep focusing on my game and play it one at a time. Quarterfinals of a grand slam is never easy, no matter who you play."

While the women's draw is turning out unexpected results, the men's half is proving altogether more predictable.

World No. 1 Rafael Nadal registered a straight-sets win over Japan's Kei Nishikori which was far more difficult than the scoreline would suggest.

The 13-time grand slam champion had his serve broken four times and he was made to sweat by 16th seed Nishikori before wrapping up a 7-6 (7-3) 7-5 7-6 (7-3) win.

Nadal will continue his bid for a second career win at the season-opening grand slam against Bulgarian No. 22 Gregor Dimitrov.

Three-time finalist Andy Murray didn't have it all his own way during his round of 16 victory over Frenchman Stephane Robert.

The world No. 4 looked unflappable as he raced into a 6-1 6-2 lead, but Robert, ranked 119th, rallied to take a third set tie break.

Eventually Murray's class told and the Scot secured a 6-1 6-2 6-7 (6-8) 6-2 win, with 17-time grand slam winner Roger Federer awaiting in the quarterfinals.

Sixth seed Federer looked in ominous form as he swept aside No. 10 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-3 7-5 6-4, showing glimpses of the talent which brought him four Australian Open titles between 2004 and 2010.

Read: Why Ana Ivanovic is having more fun

Blog: Five rising tennis stars to watch


    • Rafael Nadal of Spain watches the ball in his match against Martin Klizan of Slovakia during during day seven of the China Open at the National Tennis Center on October 3, 2014 in Beijing, China.

      What does 2015 hold for Rafa?

      Rafael Nadal's body might be giving him a few problems, but his mind remains as strong as ever. Will the Spaniard add to his haul of 14 grand slam titles?
    • LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 17: Wimbledon champion Andy Murray and his long time girlfriend Kim Sears arrive at Buckingham Palace on October 17, in London, England. Murray will become an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) and receive his medal from the Duke of Cambridge. (Photo by John Stillwell - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

      Love game: Andy Murray to tie knot

      The Scot has served up a few changes to his support team in 2014 but there's one person who isn't going anywhere -- his new fiancée Kim Sears.
    • Despite being forced to retire at the age of 24 due to health problems, Lacoste remained in the game and went on start the "Lacoste" brand in 1933, which specialised in tennis products. The inspiration for the company's logo came from his nickname as a player, "le crocodile."

      'Crocodile' who broke all the rules

      His distinctive crocodile logo is seen on clothing all over the world, but Rene Lacoste also left a lasting legacy in the development of tennis.
    • Serena Williams of the US holds the US Open trophy after defeating Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark during their US Open 2014 women's singles finals match at the USTA Billie Jean King National Center September 7, 2014 in New York. AFP PHOTO/Stan HONDA (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

      Serena savors U.S. Open win

      Serena Williams is without peer in the modern women's game and now she is on a par with two American tennis legends from the past.
    • American tennis player and golfer Althea Gibson (right) receives a kiss from compatriot Darlene Hard, whom she beat in two sets to become the first black woman to win the Women's Singles Finals at Wimbledon.

      The amazing life of Althea Gibson

      Over the course of her remarkable life, Althea Gibson was many things to many people -- but it was tennis where she really left her mark.
    • Courting couple at match point

      "I didn't cry once when I practiced in front of the mirror," says Martin Emmrich. But the nerves kicked in when he got down on one knee on court.
    • LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 03: Tennis / Frauen: Wimbledon 2004, London; Finale; Siegerin Maria SHARAPOVA / RUS 03.07.04. (Photo by Bongarts/Bongarts/Getty Images)

      'Baby' Sharapova's big moment

      It's 10 years since a teenage Maria Sharapova became the darling of Wimbledon's hallowed Center Court, launching herself as a star.
    • 'Swiss Miss' follows mom's lead

      Five-time grand slam champion Martina Hingis has followed her mom into a coaching role, setting up a new tennis academy in Barcelona, Spain.