Maria Sharapova came into her fourth-round match against Carla Suarez Navarro yet to drop a set and looked impressive in ousting Jelena Ostapenko previously. The Russian went into this match with a 4-1 head-to-head lead against her crafty Spanish opponent, and it seemed as though the Russian was bound to go through to the US Open quarterfinals for the first time since 2012.
However, Suarez Navarro came out with a plan, being aggressive and giving Sharapova no rhythm to play with. Throughout the match, Sharapova looked vulnerable in all wings of her game. Even her powerful first serve was left vulnerable–though getting them 70% in, she only managed to win 48% of them.
Furthermore, her second serve statistics were poor–winning a total of 39% of them. Her poor serving performance proved pivotal in the match; she was broken a total of six times in the two sets.
Looking at the groundstroke statistics, Sharapova hit a total of 38 unforced errors compared to 20 by Suarez Navarro. Given Sharapova’s all-power aggressive style of play, it would be normal for her to hit more unforced errors than her opponent, but this would have to result in hitting more winners than her opponent. However, looking at the statistics, both hit an equal number of 15 winners each.
In tennis, it is very difficult to win a match by hitting more unforced errors than your opponent while also only hitting the same amount of winners.
Overall, Sharapova did not have an overall game plan to deal with an inspired Suarez Navarro. Her serving was not great, and her groundstrokes were packed with unforced errors, which cost her a place in the quarterfinals.
Suarez Navarro will face last year’s runner-up Madison Keys in the quarterfinals on Wednesday.
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