Wimbledon: Angelique Kerber knocks out former champion Maria Sharapova
London: Maria Sharapova suffered more Wimbledon heartache as the French Open champion crashed to a shock 7-6 (7/4), 4-6, 6-4 defeat against Germany's Angelique Kerber in the fourth round on Tuesday.
Sharapova famously won Wimbledon aged 17 in 2004, but she has struggled to emulate that feat for much of the last decade and this was another dispiriting experience for the Russian as the ninth seed sealed a stunning Centre Court triumph on her seventh match point.
The world number five arrived at the All England Club fresh from her second Roland Garros title, but she has now failed to make it past the last 16 in seven of her last eight appearances at Wimbledon.
Kerber, who reached the last four in 2012, will face Canadian 13th seed Eugenie Bouchard, a winner against the German in the French Open fourth round recently, on Wednesday for a place in the semi-finals.
"Every single set was so close so I'm just happy that I won against Maria. She's a great player," said Kerber after her second win in six matches against the Russian.
"I'm so happy to be in the quarters now. I had it before the match in my mind that the last few Grand Slams I lost in the fourth round.
"When I had the three match points in a row and it was deuce, I just tried to focus on myself and say 'believe in your game'. At the end it worked."
Sharapova's exit means four of the top five seeds in the women's draw have been eliminated following the earlier departures of Serena Williams, Li Na, Agnieszka Radwanska.
Her demise also leaves Serena in 2002 as the last woman to follow victory at the French Open by winning Wimbledon.
In a women's tournament producing major shocks at every turn, this was one of the biggest, especially given Kerber went into the match with a dismal 0-8 record against top-10 opponents at the majors.
All that is history now and Kerber is determined to build on this epic triumph in her first Grand Slam quarter-final since the left-hander's run to the last four at Wimbledon two years ago.
"It was great match. I think the people enjoyed it out there," she added. "Right now I will focus on my next round. Against Eugenie it's a tough match.
"I will play aggressive, play my game and enjoy the match and enjoy every single moment here."
There was an early warning that Sharapova wasn't going to be able to bully her way to victory in the aggressive fashion of her first three matches.
Kerber broke the Russian in the opening game and, although Sharapova led 3-1 in the breaker, the German hit a hot streak, winning six of the next seven points to become the first player in this year's tournament to take a set off the fifth seed.
Sharapova came back from a set down three times en route to winning the French Open last month and appeared set to rise to the challenge once again when she hit back to take the second set.
But this time she wasn't allowed to finish the job as Kerber regained her composure impressively, unloading a series of powerful groundstrokes to break in the second game of the decider.
Sharapova had a break point at 2-4 but couldn't convert and, although she showed tremendous guts to save six match points, Kerber was able to close out a fine win at the seventh attempt.