Spanish tennis player Carla Suarez Navarro celebrated her 30th birthday in style on Monday by beating Russia’s Maria Sharapova 6-4, 6-3 to book a place in the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open.
Sharapova, who won the 2006 tournament, had never lost a night match in New York before her first Grand Slam match with Suárez Navarro.
“Thank you very much, guys,” Suarez Navarro said by the court after the crowd wished him a happy birthday. “This is the first time I’ve played at night this year. I’m very happy because I had a good game,” he added.
Sharapova, a five-time Grand Slam event champion, paid the price for 38 unforced errors and earned less than half her first service points by committing eight double fouls.
The Spaniard will now face USA’s Madison Keys, who defeated Slovakia’s Dominika Cibulkova 6-1, 6-3 to qualify for the next round, which was also reached by Japan’s Naomi Osaka.
Keys, a finalist at Flushing Meadows last season, took advantage of his serve and the powerful shots from the line to beat Cibulkova without too much trouble.
On another day marked by strong heat in New York, the match showed long rallies from the back, in which Cibulkova was often trapped behind the baseline at the mercy of her opponent.
Keys has been solid in New York and has only lost one set in the four games he has played. On Monday, he gave up just 10 points with his service during the game, which lasted 76 minutes.
With the victory, Keys became the second player to reach at least the quarterfinals in three of the four Grand Slam tournaments in 2018.
Osaka, meanwhile, was among the top eight in a Grand Slam for the first time in her career, beating Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka 6-3, 2-6, 6-4, which brought tears to her eyes in a post-match interview, in which she said she would not have forgiven herself if she lost.
“I thought I had to fight for every point, I had to fight even if I broke my leg,” said Osaka, who in the next round will face the winner of the match between Czech Marketa Vondrousova and Ukrainian Lesia Tsurenko.