Maria Sharapova and Heather Watson out in Auckland

Top seed Maria Sharapova's flirtation with the New Zealand public came to a premature end today with a surprising 6-2 7-5 loss to unseeded Hungarian Greta Arn in the quarter-finals of the Auckland Classic.

The three-times grand slam winner, who had chosen to warm up for the Australian Open by entering the Auckland tournament rather than her normal schedule of playing exhibition matches, struggled with her rhythm in the swirling wind.



She was broken twice in the first set by the 31-year-old Arn and made numerous unforced errors in the second to crash out in a match lasting 91 minutes.



"I started off really slow, got down two breaks and I think she gained a tremendous amount of confidence from that," Sharapova told reporters. "I had my chances in the second (set), but I didn't play the same way I had played to get there.



"Obviously I would have loved to play a few more here and be the winner. But that's the way it goes. You look forward to the next one.



"That's the good thing about tennis."



Arn will now meet fourth-seeded German Julia Goerges who beat Ukraine's Kateryna Bondarenko 5-7 6-2 6-2 in the last quarter-final that was played in the final evening session of the tournament.



Sharapova's presence had helped effectively sell-out the tournament by the first day and her defeat disappointed those hoping for a final against champion and second seed Yanina Wickmayer.



Wickmayer had earlier made sure of her place in the semi-finals when she beat Romania's Simona Halep 6-0 6-2 in a little over an hour in the first match on centre court and set up a showdown with China's Peng Shuai, who beat British qualifier Heather Watson 6-4 7-5.



"I feel very happy, this is the first week of the year and I'm really happy to be playing well," said Wickmayer, who extended her unbeaten run in Auckland to eight matches. "I'm in the semis so I guess this tournament is lucky for me."



BUY WIMBLEDON TICKETS

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate