Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza has been knocked out of the US Open on a dramatic day of action at Flushing Meadows.
The Spaniard was knocked out in the fourth round by two-time Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova, who has now reached the quarter final of a Grand Slam for the first time in two years. The Czech star only returned to action in May after career-saving hand surgery following a knife attack when her home was burgled last December.
Muguruza had breezed into an early 4-1 lead, but Kvitova produced a stunning attacking display to break back and take the set on a tie break, before winning the second 6-3.
Discussing how she is rediscovering her form after the operation to reattach severed tendons, Kvitova said: "Sometimes I just really feel that the touch is there - the strength, the aggressive kind of game plan.
"It's there, which I really, really appreciate. It took me a while to find it. Luckily I found it in a Grand Slam, which is nice."
Muguruza acknowledged the quality of her opponent, saying: "Even though I was winning 4-1, I think she was playing great.
"I felt like she was superior today. You know, great for her. She played very good."
Kvitova will now face another big challenge as Venus Williams awaits in the quarter finals. The 37-year-old is aiming for an eighth Grand Slam title, which would provide further reason for celebration in the Williams family after sister Serena gave birth to her first child at the weekend.
The weekend also saw the elimination of former US Open winner Maria Sharapova, who had been given a wildcard following her return from suspension for taking a banned substance. She was knocked out 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 by 16th seed Anastasija Sevastova, who will take on American Sloane Stephens in the quarter-finals.
The presence of rising stars like Sevastova and Stephens may make the ladies' singles at the Championships, Wimbledon particularly interesting next year, not least if Serena Williams finds it difficult to recover form and fitness after her maternity break.
In the men's draw, both Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer made progress. As in the previous round against Taro Daniel, Nadal lost the first set to Leonardo Mayer before fighting back to win in four sets.
While the world number one is still searching for his best form, Federer produced a fine display to beat Feliciano Lopez in straight sets. Moreover, the Swiss superstar showed no signs of the back injury that has recently hampered him. He faces Philipp Kohlschreiber later today (September 4th) for a place in the last eight.
While Nadal and Federer close in on a titanic semi-final meeting that could see the latter seize the world number one ranking, all around them the remaining big names continue to fall. Federer could face a quarter final against Dominic Thiem or 2009 US Open winner Juan Martin del Potro, but the bottom half of the draw is wide open. With 2014 champion Marin Cilic out, somebody out of Sam Querrey, Kevin Anderson, Pablo Carreno Busta or Diego Schwartzman will reach their first Grand Slam final.
Image: Getty, from Keith Prowse subscription