Miami: World No 2 Aryna Sabalenka suffered a shock straight-set Miami Open quarter-final loss to resurgent Romanian Sorana Cirstea, who reached her first WTA 1000 semi-final in a decade.
Cirstea, ranked 74th in the world, triumphed 6-4, 6-4 against the Australian Open champion to secure her first WTA 1000 semi-final since Toronto in 2013.
The 32-year-old is enjoying an upturn in form since taking on Swede Thomas Johansson as her coach, reaching the quarterfinals at Indian Wells and beating world No 4 Caroline Garcia of France in both legs of the “Sunshine Swing.”
In her first meeting with the big-serving Belarusian, Cirstea looked comfortable and composed as she broke Sabalenka’s first service game.
Irritated and frustrated
The 24-year-old from Minsk, who is now based in Miami, broke back to make it 4-4 but Cirstea swiftly got back in front and held to win take the opening set with her opponent looking visibly irritated and frustrated.
Again Cirstea broke on her opponent’s first serve game and then at 5-4 up, she survived two break points before a superb ace down the middle gave her match point, which she converted when Sabalenka went long.
The veteran reacted with a broad smile and a fist pump and conceded she was surprised by the victory.
“I think I am a bit speechless,” she said. “I came out hoping that it would be a really tough match. I tried to hold my ground. I’m very happy with my performance today, it is a bit unexpected to be honest.”
“I had confidence in my game. I knew I was playing well, and I knew that if I come out swinging and being aggressive, I would have my chance,” she added.
“I’m very happy to get the win against Aryna, because she has been playing great lately. She’s probably one of the two or three best at the moment. So this gives me a lot of confidence.”