Sorana Cirstea stuns Aryna Sabalenka for first WTA 1000 semi-final in a decade
Unseeded Romanian Sorana Cirstea produced a brilliant display to stun Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka in the Miami Open quarter-finals.
A 6-4, 6-4 victory ensures that Cirstea will feature in a WTA 1000 semi-final for the first time in a decade.
Cirstea last reached a WTA 1000 last four in Toronto in 2013 when she went on to the final before losing to Serena Williams.
Three double faults at crucial moments would ultimately cost Sabalenka her fifth defeat of the season.
Sabalenka would wind up having an on-court meltdown which saw her smash her racket.
The Romanian has been on a roll in Miami and is yet to drop a set in five matches.
The triumph represents her first win over a player ranked in the top two on the WTA Rankings.
Cirstea was in a state of disbelief after clinching the win.
“I think I’m a bit speechless,” Cirstea said in her on-court interview after the match.
“I came out knowing it was going to be a really tough match. Aryna hits so hard so I knew I had to hold my ground and I’m very happy with my performance today. It’s a bit unexpected to be honest!
“I guess people like to talk about the age, the years, the results, but I never do that. I just mind my own business. I just work hard, do my thing, believe in my game, work with my coach Thomas Johansson who I just started working with in December and I think it’s going great.
“I’m not defined by numbers, I’m just trying to keep my head down and work hard.”
Cirstea got off to a flying start in the pair’s first-ever WTA tour meeting, breaking Sabalenka’s serve in the opening exchanges.
The Romanian held off Sabalenka’s powerful forehands, but the Belarussian broke back to tie the match at 4-4 securing parity with a blazing forehand winner.
In the next game, Sabalenka saved a break point with another pinpoint forehand winner, but Cirstea responded with a spectacular winner of her own, before securing the break when the world No 2 double faulted and destroyed her racket in rage.
Cirstea clinched the set with an almost serene service game.
The second set followed a similar pattern with Cirstea securing an early break before Sabalenka broke back.
Another Sabalenka double fault would give Cirstea a lead which was enough to see her close out the set and reach the semi-finals of the Miami Open for the first time.
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