INDIAN WELLS, CA, USA - She's mysterious - she seems to send shockwaves through the tennis world when people least expect it - and Camila Giorgi has done it again, this time at the BNP Paribas Open, coming out of qualifying and now reaching the fourth round with a win over Maria Sharapova.
Giorgi, who also reached her first two Grand Slam second weeks as a qualifier - Wimbledon in 2012, the US Open in 2013 - battled more than two and a half hours to edge the No.4-seeded Sharapova in a nail-biter, 63 46 75. Things got a little tricky at the end as Sharapova twice rallied from a break down in the third set - including with Giorgi serving for it at 5-4 - but the Italian regrouped to close it out.
"It was a really good match - it wasn't too consistent, but it was great anyway," Giorgi said. "I just tried to play my game and keep going, and even if I missed, I still played my game. I didn't change.
"I think I was just playing more aggressive than her at the end and that was really important."
Giorgi's win over the No.5-ranked Sharapova was the first Top 5 win of her career.
Speaking of Sharapova, she was disappointed with her play over the two-hour, 36-minute match.
"I did not play a good match at all. I had never played against her, but she's someone who doesn't give you much rhythm. She's quite aggressive, but some shots she hits incredible for a long period of time, then sometimes she goes off for a bit. But my level was nowhere near where it should have been.
"I guess just a bad day."
The four-time Grand Slam champion and former No.1 was complimentary of Giorgi's play though.
"I think if she played at this level for a consistent period of time, I don't think she'd be a qualifier here," Sharapova commented. "I think that's pretty obvious to everyone. But that's the thing with tennis - and I've said it so many times - you've got to bring this type of tennis when you're playing on center court or when you're playing on Court 18. And especially when you're just moving up and when you're just getting that confidence and you're playing well in Grand Slams, you've got to back it up.
"It's a big challenge. It really is. But if she keeps it up, she will be a good player."
Other winners later on in the day were No.8 seed Petra Kvitova, who beat No.27 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova, 63 26 60; No.12 seed Dominika Cibulkova, who beat No.23 seed Ekaterina Makarova, 64 75; No.17 seed Sloane Stephens, who upset No.11 seed Ana Ivanovic in the feature night match, 76(3) 64; and last but not least Alisa Kleybanova, who overpowered María-Teresa Torró-Flor, 61 63.