Tennis - Sharapova beaten by qualifier at Indian Wells

Russia's Maria Sharapova was knocked out of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells after a shock loss to Italian qualifier Camila Giorgi.

Tennis - Sharapova beaten by qualifier at Indian Wells

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Maria Sharapova of Russia waves to the crowd as she leaves the court following her loss to Camila Giorgi of Italy during the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells Tennis Garden (AFP)

Sharapova, who won the prestigious tournament in 2006 and again last year, was sent packing after a 6-3 4-6 7-5 defeat to Giorgi, a 22-year-old ranked 79th in the world.

Giorgi has been making steady progress in the past year, reaching the fourth round at the US Open in September, but her win over the fifth-ranked Sharapova was the biggest of her career.

Sharapova's loss came two days after Victoria Azarenka was also bundled out of the Californian event.

"I did not play a good match at all," said Sharapova, who dropped serve eight times and committed 58 unforced errors.

"(I've) never played against her, but she's someone that doesn't give you much rhythm. She's quite aggressive, but some shots she hits incredible for a long period of time.

"Sometimes they go off a bit. But, if I'm speaking about my level, it was nowhere near where it should have been."

Giorgi will play her countrywoman Flavia Pennetta in the next round after she beat Australian Sam Stosur 6-4 3-6 6-1.

China's Li Na, the top seed in the women's draw, had no problems booking her place in the fourth round, easily beating Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic 6-3 6-4.

Despite dishing up nine double-faults and having her own service broken twice, Li was far too strong and streetwise for Pliskova, wrapping up the win with an ace.

"At least I could win the last point and stay in the tournament," Li said.

"If you're a tennis player, you'll make double faults. At least I can improve my serve even more from here."

Li is looking to win her first Indian Wells title and continue her great start to the year after capturing the Australian Open.

Her next opponent is Canada's Aleksandra Wozniak, who defeated Russia's Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-1 6-7(3-7) 6-0.

BNP Paribas Open results

Third round

17-Sloane Stephens (U.S.) beat 11-Ana Ivanovic (Serbia) 7-6(3) 6-4

12-Dominika Cibulkova (Slovakia) beat 23-Ekaterina Makarova (Russia) 6-4 7-5

Alisa Kleybanova (Russia) beat Maria Teresa Torro (Spain) 6-1 6-3

8-Petra Kvitova (Czech Republic) beat 27-Svetlana Kuznetsova (Russia) 6-3 2-6 6-0

Camila Giorgi (Italy) beat 4-Maria Sharapova (Russia) 6-3 4-6 7-5

20-Flavia Pennetta (Italy) beat 16-Samantha Stosur (Australia) 6-4 3-6 6-1

Aleksandra Wozniak (Canada) beat 21-Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (Russia) 6-1 6-7(3) 6-0

1-Li Na (China) beat Karolina Pliskova (Czech Republic) 6-3 6-4

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