Maria Sharapova today moved into the last eight at Wimbledon for the first time since losing the 2011 final with a testing straight-sets victory over the unseeded Zarina Diyas.
Sharapova, a Wimbledon winner back in 2004, but still seeking the elusive repeat title, will face another unseeded player, American world No.47 Coco Vandenweghe, in the quarter-finals. Vandenweghe unexpectedly beat 5th seed Lucie Safarova earlier today.
Sharapova, in her 13th Wimbledon, must have thought an easy passage was to be hers when, having already broken in the fourth game of the first set, she had a break point to take the first set 6-2. However Diyas held, then broke herself to be 4-5. Sharapova raised her game, breaking back immediately to take the first set.
Diyas is that rarest of leading Kazakhstan tennis players in that she actually hails from the republic. Oil wealth, and a desire to become known on the global stage has led to importing players, mainly from Russia, but Diyas is one of their own.
Ranked 34 in the world and having already banked $1m in prize money the 21-year-old is one to watch and had already put out two seeds, Andrea Petkovic and Flavia Pennetta. She broke in the third game of the second set, Sharapova double-faulting on break point, to take a 2-1 lead. A well-placed drop shot gave her a 3-1 lead and Sharapova knew she was in a game.
The former champion is, though, still a force to be reckoned with. She cranked up her serve (and her shriek volume) to draw level, then lead 5-4. A series of sweeping forehands forced another break and victory in just under 100 minutes.
The match was nevertheless encouraging for Diyas. The only previous time she had faced Sharapova, in the Australian Open earlier this year, she was dismissed 6-1, 6-1.Reuse content