Stanford, California, Jul 28 : New Zealand qualifier Marina Erakovic stunned top-seeded and defending champion Victoria Azarenka of Belarus 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 at the Bank of the West Classic on Thursday to reach her second quarterfinal of the year.
The 121st-ranked Erakovic recorded her first win over a top-20 opponent.
“Coming in I knew I had to be the aggressor and try to dictate the pace,” Erakovic said. “I knew the court and I felt like I was hitting the ball well.”
The fourth-ranked Azarenka reached the semifinals at Wimbledon in her last tournament.
Japan's Ayumui Morita recovered to beat qualifier Urszula Radwanska of Poland 4-6, 7-5, 6-1 and will next face Marion Bartoli.
American Serena Williams and Russia's Maria Kirilenko were scheduled to meet later Thursday, with the winner facing Maria Sharapova in the quarters.
Azarenka had won 33 of her previous 40 matches before falling to Erakovic. She suffered her first two-match losing streak since February and just her second of the year.
The 23-year-old Erakovic, born in Croatia, qualified for the main draw at Wimbledon and won her first-round match. She also qualified for the French Open.
After missing six months due to a hip injury in 2009, Erakovic returned to the ITF circuit, where she has won 12 singles titles.
“I went into a slump just before the injury and was beginning to question whether this tennis thing was for me,” Erakovic said. “The injury made me realize how much I love tennis and that's when I committed myself. Coming back I feel like I can compete with the best.”
Erakovic opened this year 3-4, failing to qualify for a pair of tournaments and losing in the first round of two others. She went back to the ITF circuit in late February, winning three titles in five weeks before making her run at Roland Garros.
“You want to get in a lot of matches and that's a good place to go when you're not feeling your game,” Erakovic said. “Even in the ITF the girls are good. The girls can hit the ball.” AP