Russian Maria Sharapova reacts after losing a point to Spain's Carla Navarro in the third round of the WTA Montreal in Canada on Thursday. - EPA
MONTREAL (AFP): French Open champion Maria Sharapova's preparations for the US Open suffered a setback on Thursday as she was ousted from the WTA Montreal tennis tournament by Carla Suarez Navarro.
The 14th-seeded Spaniard, ranked 16th in the world, shrugged off two rain delays and emerged with a 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 triumph over the fourth-seeded Russian, a former world number one who was playing her first tournament since a surprise fourth-round exit at Wimbledon.
Suarez Navarro put on a crisp shot-making display as she cruised through the first set.
Sharapova, who had also started slowly but managed to rally against second-round opponent Garbine Muguruza, battled back from a 4-2 deficit in the second to force the decisive third set, but she had no answer for Suarez Navarro in the third.
"It was a tough match," Sharapova said. "I thought my opponent played a really good match.
"I couldn't find my rhythm from the beginning. Always had my back against the wall throughout the whole match. Always came back from behind.
"Even though I felt like I started feeling a little bit better, it wasn't enough in the end."
Sharapova's wayward backhand on match point was her 49th unforced error of the contest. She converted just six of her 19 break point opportunities.
Sharapova said her inability to reliably put her first serve in play was a factor in the defeat, but not her only problem.
"Obviously you think a lot more about the second serve, which is a lot more difficult," she said.
"I was struggling with just not that today, but a lot of unforced errors from the baseline as well. Couldn't commit on the return. So I think it was a little bit of everything."
Sharapova said she wouldn't blame two rain delays for her inability to find her rhythm.
"I think I've been on the tour for way too long," she said. "I know what to expect and to know that anything can be thrown at you, whether it's another delay, weather, or something else. That's part of the game. That's never bothered me."
Now Sharapova has just over two weeks to hone her hardcourt game before the start of the year's last Grand Slam, the US Open at Flushing Meadows on August 25.
"There's quite a bit of time until then," Sharapova said, stressing that it's just a matter of fine-tuning a few things.
"It's never just 20 percent of something," she said of what she must improve. "It's 1 percent or 2 percent of many things that can ultimately change the result."