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Australian Open 2014: Maria Sharapova out, followed Serena Williams

Melbourne, Australia: Maria Sharapova followed Serena Williams out of the Australian Open after the second fourth-round upset in 24 hours.   Third-seeded Sharapova lost 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 to Dominika Cibulkova on Monday, struggling with her serve

India TV News Desk Updated on: January 20, 2014 10:12 IST
   
"So I certainly would have loved to play a little bit more before playing a Grand Slam, but this is the chance that I was given."
   
Top-ranked Williams, a five-time Australian Open champion, was knocked out in a three-set loss to 14th-seeded Ana Ivanovic on Sunday, and later revealed she had a back problem that had her considering withdrawing from the tournament.
   
The absence of two of the biggest stars in women's tennis opens up the draw for two-time defending champion Victoria Azarenka, who was playing No. 13-seeded Sloane Stephens later Monday.
   
Sharapova made it hard for herself in Australia, having difficulty closing out her second- and third-round matches. She needed almost 3½ hours to beat Karin Knapp in searing heat the second round -- playing 50 minutes between her first and final match points. She said she couldn't use the heat wave as an excuse for her loss, and added that the hip strain wasn't anything out of the ordinary for a tennis player.
   
Cibulkova had spent just over 3½ hours on court in her first three wins, including a 6-1, 6-0 win over No. 16 Carla Suarez Navarro in the third round.
   
The pair hadn't played since Sharapova's quarterfinal win at Wimbledon in 2011. Now they're evenly split in six head-to-heads, but Cibulkova has won two of their three matches at the majors with her win Monday and her quarterfinal victory at the 2009 French Open.
   
Cibulkova raced to a 5-0 lead in the second set before tightening up and letting Sharapova back into the match. She was more steady in the third, when she didn't even face a break point.
   
"I was never doubting myself," the No. 20-seeded Cibulkova said, adding that Ivanovic's win over Williams the previous day had been motivational but not her main inspiration against Sharapova.
   
"It was a great match for Ana. But this was a different story. I already beat Maria before and I beat her" at a major.
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