NEW YORK, NY, USA - No.16 seed Anastasija Sevastova booked her place in yet another US Open quarterfinal in dramatic style, recovering from a set down to dismiss 2006 champion Maria Sharapova, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2.
"You prepare yourself for these matches," Sevastova said after the match. "You play for these matches. You play the sport for these matches.
"I was ready. I played last year on Ashe. I knew what to expect."
Sevastova was once a Top 40 player back in 2011 before deciding to briefly retire due to perpetual injuries and illnesses. Reigniting her love for the game during her time away, the Latvian returned to impressive results, roaring into the last eight in Flushing Meadows last year with upset victories over Garbiñe Muguruza and Johanna Konta.
Winning her second WTA title earlier this season at the Mallorca Open, Sevastova was undaunted by the prospect of backing up her career-revitalizing run, returning to the second week by knocking out in-form youngsters Carina Witthoeft and Donna Vekic.
Across the net, Sharapova had battled into her first Grand Slam fourth round after 19 months away, surprising World No.2 Simona Halep in one of the best matches of the tournament and moving further by beating Timea Babos and Russian-American teenager Sofia Kenin on Friday night.
The former WTA World No.1 appeared in control from the outset, particularly off the forehand side, as she edged ahead 4-1 with points for 5-2 to start the match. Sevastova kept things close from there, and though she ultimately lost the opening set, broke early in the second and took that momentum into the third, where she served out the win on her third match point.
"It's been a really great ride in the last week," Sharapova said in her post-match press conference. "Obviously coming off a loss, it's a quick turnaround in order to reflect all the positives that happened in the last eight or nine days.
"But ultimately I can take a lot from this week. It's great to get that major out of the way. It was an incredible opportunity. I'm very thankful for the opportunity. I did my best, and I can be proud of that."
Spending two hours and 16 minutes on court, Sevastova struck 21 winners to just 14 winners throughout, playing expert defense and mixing up the play well against Sharapova, who hit 42 winners to 51 errors - 18 of which came in the deciding set.
Up next for the Latvian veteran will be American Sloane Stephens, who survived Germany's Julia Goerges in three sets out on Louis Armstrong Stadium. Stephens is into her first Grand Slam quarterfinal since the 2013 Wimbledon Championships, and first ever at the US Open.
"She's playing great," Sevastova said. "I haven't seen her play, so I have to check it out on YouTube maybe.
"I think she's tough opponent, for sure. Playing at home also. I know that she has a good forehand. That's the only thing I know!"