INDIAN WELLS (California) • Garbine Muguruza had only compliments for Sachia Vickery after a shock 6-2, 5-7, 1-6 loss to the world No. 100 American in the second round of the WTA Indian Wells tournament on Friday night.
The Spaniard, who was seeded third, was named WTA Player of the Year last year after winning titles in Wimbledon and Cincinnati.
The 24-year-old also reached No. 1 in the world in September and was ranked third heading into Indian Wells. She said: "It was a very tough match. At 3-1, she (Vickery) started playing much better, and she kind of believed a little bit more and start hitting better shots.
"I did a couple mistakes here and there, and she took advantage of that. With the match, she was raising her level more and more."
This was her first loss to a player ranked in the 100s since she was beaten by Jana Cepelova (124) at Wimbledon in 2016.
Muguruza had five double faults and had her serve broken five times in the 2hr 11min night match.
Crowd favourite Vickery posted her first career win over a top-10 player as she served masterfully and controlled the rallies with her ground strokes. The 22-year-old defeated former Wimbledon finalist Eugenie Bouchard in the first round before the biggest win of her young career against Muguruza.
"I played on big courts before but nothing like this," said Vickery. "The atmosphere really helped me even though I was feeling it a bit physically. I kept telling myself 'just do your best'."
She next faces Japan's Naomi Osaka, who posted the first surprise win of the tournament by eliminating Maria Sharapova 6-4, 6-4 in her opening match.
Sharapova has since announced that she has decided to split with her coach Sven Groeneveld following that defeat. After four years of working together, the decision to go their separate ways was a mutual one, the Russian star said.
World No. 1 Simona Halep and fifth seed Karolina Pliskova eased through their openers on Friday.
Halep beat Karolina's sister Kristyna 6-4, 6-4 while Karolina defeated Irina-Camelia Begu 7-6 (7-4), 6-1 to reach the third round of the combined WTA/ATP hard-court tournament.
ATP INDIAN WELLS
Day 4: StarHub Ch201, tomorrow, 2am