NEW YORK — Maybe this was just one three-setter too many for Maria Sharapova.
Sharapova tried a bit of everything, even resorting to switching over her racket to hit a few lefty shots. Still, the five-time major champion could not quite keep her Grand Slam comeback from a doping suspension going, losing in the fourth round of the U.S. Open to 16th-seeded Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 on Sunday.
“Look, three-set matches are challenging . I love being part of them. There’s an element of concentration, focus, physicality that goes into all of it. And you have to put it all together. Yeah, you just have to get through it,” Sharapova said. “There’s no doubt that not playing those matches certainly cost me today. I did feel like I was thinking a little bit too much and not playing by instinct.”
This was the third time in her four matches that Sharapova went the distance and she faded down the stretch, while also dealing with a blister on her right hand that was treated and taped by a trainer in the final set. Sharapova’s miscues kept closing exchanges, and she dropped 13 of the first 14 points in that set.
The 30-year-old Russian finished with 51 unforced errors, compared to 14 for Sevastova.
“It’s been a really great ride,” Sharapova said.
“Ultimately, I can take a lot from this week,” she continued. “It’s great to get that major out of the way. It was an incredible opportunity. I’m very thankful for the opportunity.”
Sharapova’s exit leaves Venus Williams as the only past U.S. Open champion in the women’s field . The 37-year-old Williams, who won the title in 2000 and 2001, got to the quarterfinals by beating Carla Suarez Navarro 6-3, 3-6, 6-1. Next for Williams will be a showdown against No. 13 Petra Kvitova, a two-time Wimbledon winner, who eliminated reigning Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza 7-6 (3), 6-3 on Sunday night.
This is the most significant victory for Kvitova since she returned to action after needing surgery on her racket-holding hand for cuts from a knife-wielding intruder at her home in the Czech Republic in December.
“I came here without any expectations,” Kvitova said.