Maria Sharapova's comeback run at the U.S. Open ended in Round 4 on Sunday, with No. 16 seed Anastasija Sevastova earning a 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 win.
The Latvian notched her second straight quarterfinals appearance at the event.
Sharapova had looked good in her first three wins in New York, her first Grand Slam since returning from a performance-enhancing drugs suspension. However, she couldn't finish off her opponent after winning the first set.
Sevastova didn't record a single ace in the victory yet won 77.8 percent of her first-serve points to climb out of the early hole.
Sharapova hurt herself with 51 unforced errors (compared to 14 by her opponent) and five double-faults (compared to two).
Things looked good for the Russian in the first set, as she took a 4-1 lead with dominant play. It got a little tougher after that, but she still handed Sevastova her first set loss of the tournament with a 7-5 finish.
George Bellshaw of Metro UK provided his thoughts after the first set:
George Bellshaw @BellshawGeorge
Sharapova breaks again to take the first set 7-5. Strong end from the Russian. One set from the quarter-finals #USOpen2017-9-3 19:39:58
Sharapova had 18 winners in the first set compared to just eight by Sevastova, and this drop shot showed her at her best:
US Open Tennis @usopen
🎥 : Early in the first set @MariaSharapova hits a nice drop shot vs Sevastova. #USOpen @MBUSA https://t.co/jWU7k4QV442017-9-3 19:48:21
Sevastova came back with a clean second set, though, excelling with her serve while tallying just two unforced errors (to 16 by Sharapova) and zero double-faults (Sharapova also had zero). Add in three saved break points, and she earned a 6-4 win to force a third set.
Jill Martin of CNN described the play of the 27-year-old during the second set:
Jill Martin @ByJillMartin
Sevastova is so crafty. Fun player to watch.2017-9-3 20:19:01
Sevastova's hot play continued into the third set, as she earned two early breaks and forced Sharapova to examine her health, via WTA Insider:
WTA Insider @WTA_insider
Sharapova spraying errors and Sevastova has a double-break in the decider at 30-0. Trainer out for Sharapova looking at her right hand.2017-9-3 20:40:23
It wasn't easy for Sevastova to close it out, as she gave up two games and lost three match points, but the fourth try was the charm.
US Open Tennis @usopen
🎥 : Match point, Anastasija Sevastova.🔥 #USOpen @jpmorgan https://t.co/bdwusE3Bxc2017-9-3 21:09:36
Unseeded and ranked just 146th in the world following her suspension, Sharapova was given a wild-card spot and made it count with an opening-round win over No. 2 seed Simona Halep. Sharapova's popularity has been on full display as well, as she played all four of her matches at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
World No. 5 Carolina Wozniacki, who was eliminated in Round 2, called the court scheduling "questionable," via Sports Illustrated.
Sevastova, however, enjoyed the location.
"Playing on Ashe is an amazing atmosphere every time," she said after the match, via the tournament's Twitter account. "It makes it fun to play here."
She will now look for a spot in the semifinals against Sloane Stephens, who defeated No. 30 seed Julia Goerges in three sets Sunday. While unseeded, the American has been red-hot since returning from a foot injury and will be a tough out.
Meanwhile, Sharapova proved over the last week she remains a threat and will be a top contender in 2018.