Sharapova knocked out while Venus advances at US Open

Sharapova knocked out while Venus advances at US Open

Maria Sharapova's Grand Slam return after a 15-month doping ban ended in defeat Sunday at the US Open but the former world number one considered it a major step in her comeback.

Maria Sharapova

Latvian 16th seed Anastasija Sevastova rallied to eliminate the five-time Grand Slam champion 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 at Arthur Ashe Stadium, booking a quarter-final against American Sloane Stephens, who ousted Germany's Julia Goerges 6-3, 3-6, 6-1.

Sharapova, the 2006 US Open winner, was able to find the positives after making 51 unforced errors to to only 14 by Sevastova, whose 21 winners were half the 30-year-old Russian's total.

"Reflecting back on the week, I can be happy," Sharapova said. "It has been a really great ride. Ultimately, I can take a lot from this week."

In Sharapova's first Slam since she tested positive for the banned blood booster meldonium at the 2016 Australian Open, she ousted second-ranked Simona Halep in the first round and served notice her game remains formidable to any contender.

"She played unbelievable throughout the first and second set and I just kept fighting, running for every ball," Sevastova said. "I had to stay pumped up and run and make her work for every point.

"I was confident. I was feeling it. But still you have to beat her. She was playing one of the best matches here."

Sharapova returned from her suspension in April, was snubbed for a French Open wildcard and missed Wimbledon with a thigh injury but received a US Open wildcard despite only one hardcourt tuneup match due to a left forearm injury.

"It's great to get that major out of the way," Sharapova said. "I'm thankful for the opportunity. I did my best and I can be proud of that."

Sharapova, expected to jump from 146th to around the 100 mark in the world rankings, said a blistered right middle finger in the final set played no role in her defeat.

"I don't think I was as aggressive or stepping in as much as I did in the first set," Sharapova said. "I definitely took a few steps back a little bit and gave her the time to dictate play and get more balls back."

US ninth seed Venus Williams, a seven-time Grand Slam champion, advanced by defeating Spain's 35th-ranked Carla Suarez Navarro 6-3, 3-6, 6-1.

The Wimbledon and Australian Open runner-up, seeking her third US Open crown, will meet the winner of a later match between Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza, the third seed from Spain, and Czech 13th seed Petra Kvitova, a two-time Wimbledon winner.

"I'm focused on myself and trying to be as aggressive as possible," Williams said. "Nobody ever gives you a Slam. You've got to take it and I'm going to try and take it."

Stephens, who was a 2013 Australian Open semi-finalist, missed 11 months with a foot injury that required surgery in January and returned only at Wimbledon, but has won 12 of her past 14 matches for her deepest US Open run in six tries.

"I honestly couldn't have asked for a better comeback," Stephens said. "Making it to the quarter-finals here is unbelievable."

- Teen Shapovalov ousted -

Canadian 18-year-old Denis Shapovalov's dream run ended as Spanish 12th seed Pablo Carreno Busta beat him 7-6 (7/2), 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (7/3) to reach his second Grand Slam quarter-final after this year's French Open.

Shapovalov would have been the youngest Slam quarter-finalist since Michael Chang at the 1990 French Open, youngest US Open quarter-finalist since Andre Agassi in 1988 and first qualifier in the US Open last eight since Gilles Muller in 2008.

"The biggest lesson is that I'm able to compete with these guys," Shapovalov said. "I still think I have a lot of work to do."

Carreno Busta, the first player in Grand Slam history to face four qualifiers, has not dropped a set at the tournament.

In a draw half assured of producing a first-time Slam finalist, he will next face Argentine 29th seed Diego Schwartzman, who eliminated French 16th seed Lucas Pouille 7-6 (7/3), 7-5, 2-6, 6-2.

Schwartzman, at 5ft 7ins (1.70m), is the shortest Grand Slam quarter-finalist since same-height South American Jaime Yzaga at the 1994 US Open.

Later men's matches pitted South African 28th seed Kevin Anderson against Italy's Paolo Lorenzi and German 23rd seed Mischa Zverev against US 17th seed Sam Querrey.

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