Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia downed top seed Victoria Azarenka of Belarus to pull off a major upset in fourth round action at the French Open yesterday.
The 15th seed won 6-2, 7-6 (7/4) to set up a quarter-final match with either Samantha Stosur of Australia or Sloane Stephens of the United States.
Azarenka won the Australian Open in January and had been expected to coast past Cibulkova having beaten her seven times out of eight previously.
But the little Slovakian, who reached the semi-finals in 2009, handled the cold, windy conditions on the Suzanne Lenglen court far better than the tall Belarusian.
After losing the first set, Azarenka appeared to be getting back on track as she broke to lead 2-0 in the second, but 23-year-old Cibulkova dug deep to run off four games in a row.
Azarenka levelled at 4-4, with the set then going to a tie-break which a pumped-up Cibulkova led from the start to pull off a stunning win.
“I am getting more mature and more tough mentally,” said Cibulkova, explaining that she had learned from the experience of losing to Azarenka in Miami earlier this year when leading a set and 5-2.
Azarenka said: “It wasn’t satisfying at all, not satisfying being out there playing like that. I do not know what to find positive in that. No excuses, just a bad performance.”