'Dizzy' champ Ivanovic crashes out

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The Independent Online

Yesterday was not a good day for French Open champions. It may have been a minor surprise compared with Rafael Nadal's defeat later in the afternoon, but the holder of the women's title also went out as Ana Ivanovic was beaten 6-2, 6-3 by Victoria Azarenka.

Ivanovic has struggled with injuries and loss of form ever since beating Dinara Safina in the final here 12 months ago, slipping from No 1 to No 8 in the world rankings along the way. Although she had not dropped a set in her first three matches, there was a sense of inevitability about her defeat here.

The Serb was in trouble from the moment she was broken in the third game. She played with black tape on an injured right knee, but said that had not been her main problem. "After the first point in the fourth game, I just suddenly started feeling so dizzy and I completely lost my balance," she said. "After that it was always really hard."

Azarenka, a 19-year-old from Belarus, has already won three titles this year, but this is the first time she has reached the last eight of a Grand Slam tournament.

She could even provide a stiff test for Safina in the quarter-finals, although the Russian continued her barnstorming run with a 6-1, 6-0 thumping of France's Aravane Rezai. In her first four matches here Safina has lost just five games. “I don’t waste my energy,” she said. “I want to win every point. I hope if I continue like this I can go a long way.”

Maria Sharapova, playing only her second tournament following a 10-month absence with a shoulder injury, earned a quarter-final meeting with Dominika Cibulkova after beating China's Li Na 6-4, 0-6, 6-4.

The former world No 1, who took a medical time-out for treatment to her left thigh, was 4-2 down in the third set but recovered to win in two hours and 13 minutes.

Dominika Cibulkova, of Slovakia, reached the last eight of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time when she beat Hungary’s Agnes Szavay 6-2, 6-4.