Sharapova sent packing by Cibulkova

January 20, 2014
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Maria Sharapova promised she would "bounce back" from a shock Australian Open fourth-round defeat by Slovakia's Dominika Cibulkova.

The 2008 tournament winner blamed "a bit of a strain" in the hip after she was stunned 3-6 6-4 6-1 in an error-strewn display on Rod Laver Arena.

The news means Sharapova joins five-time champion Serena Williams in making an early exit from the Melbourne Park showpiece, leaving two-time winner and second seed Victoria Azarenka as the player with the most major titles in the draw.

Cibulkova, 24, will now take on Simona Halep in her first Australian Open quarter-final - the third time she has reached the last eight of a Grand Slam.

Sharapova's marathon second-round match on Thursday against Karin Knapp, which lasted three-and-a-half hours in temperatures of around 40C, came back to haunt the Russian as her first-serve percentage dropped markedly against Cibulkova.

She vowed she would return stronger from the setback and insisted she can still mix it with the women's elite players.

She said: "It's moments like this that ultimately shape you and make you who you are, and that's how you bounce back."

Sharapova added: "It's easy just to be successful, but it's how many times you're able to come back from the tough moments and losses and injuries that really define who you are as an athlete.

"And that's why I'm here, because I believe I still can be up there and certainly can play better, that's for sure."

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