Cirstea stuns second seed Sabalenka in straight sets in Miami Open quarters
World number 74 Sorana Cirstea produced a major shock in the Miami Open quarter-finals after toppling 2023 Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka in straight sets on Wednesday.
The 32-year-old Romanian triumphed 6-4 6-4 over the in-form Belarusian to progress to her first WTA-1000 semi-final for a decade, dating back to the 2013 Canadian Open in Toronto.
World number two Sabalenka came into the contest as the highest remaining seed after Iga Swiatek's withdrawal, having won a tour-leading 20 matches this season.
But Cirstea blew Sabalenka away in one hour and 27 minutes, maintaining her fine run in Miami where she has not dropped a set in five matches.
Sabalenka hit more winners than Cirstea (21-16) but the Romanian was more polished, committing only nine unforced errors compared to the Australian Open winner's 21.
Cirstea broke Sabalenka in the first game of each set and showed resolve when she served out victory from 15-40 down.
"I think I'm a bit speechless," Cirstea said after the match. "I came out knowing that it's going to be a really tough match. Aryna hits so hard, so I knew I had to hold my ground, and I'm very, very happy with my performance today."
Cirstea's list of scalps includes fifth seed Caroline Garcia, former top 20 player Karolina Muchova and now Sabalenka.
The Romanian also reached the quarter-finals at the Indian Wells Open a fortnight ago, losing to Swiatek in the last eight.
Cirstea will need to wait to learn her semi-final opponent with the quarter-final between 15th seed Petra Kvitova and 18th Ekaterina Alexandrova re-scheduled to Thursday after the evening session was cancelled due to persistent rain.