Wozniacki shocks Sharapova to reach US Open last eight
Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark returns a shot against Maria Sharapova of Russia during their 2014 US Open women's singles match at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center August 31, 2014 in New York - by Timothy A. Clary
The 10th-seeded Dane booked a quarter-final berth with a 6-4, 2-6, 6-2 triumph on a steamy Arthur Ashe Stadium court.
The conditions were so punishing that the players were granted a break in the locker room before the third set, and when they returned to the court Wozniacki wasted little time, breaking Sharapova to love in the fourth game for a 3-1 lead.
She broke the Russian superstar again in the final game to seal the victory and a chance to play 13th-seeded Italian Sara Errani for a semi-final berth.
Errani ended the magical run of 32-year-old Croatian qualifier Mirjana Lucic-Baroni 6-3, 2-6, 6-0.
"It means so much to me," said Wozniacki, the 2009 runner-up who reached the semi-finals in 2010 and 2011 but hadn't been past the third round at Flushing Meadows the last two years.
"It's been a bit up and down for me this season," she added. "To win today against a champion like Maria is an unbelievable feeling."
The departure of fifth-seeded Sharapova leaves just two of the women's top eight -- world number one and two-time defending champion Serena Williams and seventh-seeded Canadian Eugenie Bouchard.
Yet another former world number one, ninth-seeded Serb Jelena Jankovic, took on Swiss 17-year-old Belinda Bencic later Sunday, and 14th-seeded Czech Lucie Safarova tried to stop the run of unseeded Chinese Peng Shuai.
Peng and Bencic were key contributors in the spate of upsets.
Peng ousted fourth-seeded Pole Agnieszka Radwanska in the second round and Bencic dispatched sixth-seeded German Angelique Kerber in the third.
Bencic, coached by Martina Hingis' mother Melanie Molitor, is trying to become the youngest US Open quarter-finalist since Hingis won the 1997 title at the age of 16.
Lucic-Baroni, ranked 121 in the world, accounted for the third-round exit of world number two Simona Halep.
- Errani's precision pays off -
But the Croatian, a teen sensation in the 1990s whose career was derailed by the trauma of an abusive father, financial troubles and injury, couldn't find a way past the metronomic Errani.
The Italian played it safe, coming up with just four outright winners to the 46 of Lucic-Baroni -- but also committing only nine unforced errors to the 69 of her opponent.
In the first set, Errani put 100 percent of her first serves in play. Asked how she managed that on a windy day, Errani said she couldn't afford not to.
"I serve slowly, so I have to put mine in," she said.
Errani said Lucic-Baroni's power left her little choice but to try to out-wait her.
"To move the ball, to be in long points with her is impossible," Errani said. "She hits the ball very strong. She made winners and she made unforced errors. So I just had to try to make her make mistakes."
Lucic-Baroni said the Italian's success deserved respect, despite her lack of fireworks.
"You know, she had five winners in the whole match and missed maybe three balls. She runs and she fights hard, that's the way it is," Lucic-Baroni said.
Errani, who achieved a career doubles Grand Slam with partner Roberta Vinci at Wimbledon, is trying to improve on her best Grand Slam singles performance, a runner-up showing at the French Open in 2012.