MONTRÉAL, Canada - Carla Suárez Navarro pulled off the biggest surprise so far at this year's Rogers Cup, unleashing a barrage of spins, angles and winners - and waiting out multiple rain delays - to take out the No.4 seed and one of the favorites for the Premier-level title, Maria Sharapova.
Suárez Navarro looked the sharper of the two from the outset, cruising through the first set, 6-2, and jumping out to a 4-2 lead in the second set. At that moment it looked like Sharapova was going to start building a comeback - she toughed out four games in a row to sneak out the second set, 6-4.
But the No.14-seeded Suárez Navarro got right back on the winning track, storming through the third set to finish it off, 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, winning on one last Sharapova backhand unforced error.
And the numbers for the match might haunt Sharapova - that errant backhand was her 49th unforced error from the match, and she also converted on just six of her 19 break point chances in the match.
"I thought my opponent played a really good match," Sharapova said. "I couldn't find my rhythm from the beginning of the match. Always had my back against the wall throughout the whole match. Always came back from behind. Even though I started feeling a little better, it wasn't enough in the end."
The former World No.1 still had gracious words for the tournament and its many, many fans.
"It's really nice to see such great attendance from the beginning of the tournament. It's meaningful because obviously a lot of tickets are sold for the semis and finals, but when you see people come out at the beginning of tournaments, that's when you feel they're really passionate, true tennis fans.
"As a professional player, that's very meaningful."
As for Suárez Navarro, she not only scored her third Top 10 win of the year - and 11th of her career - but she also recorded her 40th match win of the year, just the second player to reach that milestone this year. The first is Ana Ivanovic, who has 42 - but who is also out of the tournament already.
Sharapova will remain at No.1 on the Road To Singapore leaderboard, the year-long journey to the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global, no matter what happens this week.
Williams came into the Rogers Cup having never won a match in Canada - she was 0-4, having lost her opening match four times in Toronto. But here she has turned that around with three straight wins.
Suárez Navarro leads Williams in their head-to-head, 2-1. The Spaniard won their only previous meeting this year, at Rome, as well as their only previous meeting on hardcourts, her famous second round win at the 2009 Australian Open - though she won it 7-5 in the third and saved match point.
? WTA (@WTA) August 8, 2014