Sharapova knocked out of US Open fourth round

NEW YORK, Sept 3 (Reuters) - Maria Sharapova's contentious and captivating U.S. Open run came to an end on Sunday when Latvia's Anastasija Sevastova beat her 5-7 6-4 6-2 to reach the Flushing Meadows quarter-finals.

Playing her first grand slam since returning from a 15-month doping ban, Sharapova grabbed the spotlight with an opening-round upset of second seed Simona Halep and commanded center stage right until the end, walking off Arthur Ashe Stadium court with a demure wave to the capacity crowd.

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Maria Sharapova melts down at US Open
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Maria Sharapova melts down at US Open
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 28: Maria Sharapova of Russia celebrates winning her first round Women's Singles match against Simona Halep of Romania on Day One of the 2017 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on August 28, 2017 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 28: Maria Sharapova of Russia celebrates winning her first round Women's Singles match against Simona Halep of Romania on Day One of the 2017 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on August 28, 2017 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Maria Sharapova of Russia celebrates her victory over Simona Halep of Romania during their Women's Singles match at the 2017 US Open Tennis Tournament August 28, 2017 in New York. Sharapova marked her first Grand Slam appearance since her doping ban ended with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 victory over second seed Halep. / AFP PHOTO / DON EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, USA - AUGUST 28: Maria Sharapova of Russia competes against Simona Halep (not seen) of Romania Women's Singles within 2017 US Open Tennis Championships at Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York, United States on August 28, 2017. (Photo by Volkan Furuncu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 28: Maria Sharapova of Russia celebrates winning her first round Women's Singles match against Simona Halep of Romania on Day One of the 2017 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on August 28, 2017 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Maria Sharapova of Russia hits a return to Simona Halep of Romania during their Women's Singles match at the 2017 US Open Tennis Tournament August 28, 2017 in New York. Sharapova marked her first Grand Slam appearance since her doping ban ended with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 victory over second seed Halep. / AFP PHOTO / DON EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 28: Maria Sharapova of Russia reacts during her first round Women's Singles match against Simona Halep of Romania on Day One of the 2017 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on August 28, 2017 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Russia's Maria Sharapova returns the ball to Romania's Simona Halep during their 2017 US Open Round 1 Women's Singles match at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York on August 28, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Jewel SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
Romania's Simona Halep reacts after losing a point to Russia's Maria Sharapova during their 2017 US Open Women's Singles match at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York on August 28, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Jewel SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - Russia's Maria Sharapova serves to Romania's Simona Halep during their 2017 US Open Women's Singles match at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York on August 28, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Jewel SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
Maria Sharapova (R) of Russia and Simona Halep of Romania meet at the net after their Women's Singles match at the 2017 US Open Tennis Tournament August 28, 2017 in New York.. Sharapova marked her first Grand Slam appearance since her doping ban ended with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 victory over second seed Halep. / AFP PHOTO / DON EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
Maria Sharapova of Russia celebrates her victory over Simona Halep of Romania during their Women's Singles match at the 2017 US Open Tennis Tournament August 28, 2017 in New York. Sharapova marked her first Grand Slam appearance since her doping ban ended with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 victory over second seed Halep. / AFP PHOTO / DON EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
Maria Sharapova of Russia celebrates her victory over Simona Halep of Romania during their Women's Singles match at the 2017 US Open Tennis Tournament August 28, 2017 in New York. Sharapova marked her first Grand Slam appearance since her doping ban ended with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 victory over second seed Halep. / AFP PHOTO / DON EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
Maria Sharapova of Russia celebrates her victory over Simona Halep of Romania during their Women's Singles match at the 2017 US Open Tennis Tournament August 28, 2017 in New York. Sharapova marked her first Grand Slam appearance since her doping ban ended with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 victory over second seed Halep. / AFP PHOTO / DON EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 28: Maria Sharapova (R) of Russia shakes hands with Simona Halep of Romania after defeating her in their first round Women's Singles match on Day One of the 2017 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on August 28, 2017 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, USA - AUGUST 28: Maria Sharapova of Russia gestures after winning against Simona Halep (not seen) of Romania Women's Singles within 2017 US Open Tennis Championships at Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York, United States on August 28, 2017. (Photo by Volkan Furuncu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, USA - AUGUST 28: Maria Sharapova of Russia celebrates after winning against Simona Halep (not seen) of Romania Women's Singles within 2017 US Open Tennis Championships at Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York, United States on August 28, 2017. (Photo by Volkan Furuncu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 28: Maria Sharapova of Russia celebrates winning her first round Women's Singles match against Simona Halep of Romania on Day One of the 2017 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on August 28, 2017 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 28: Maria Sharapova of Russia celebrates winning her first round Women's Singles match against Simona Halep of Romania on Day One of the 2017 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on August 28, 2017 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, USA - AUGUST 28: Maria Sharapova (L) of Russia celebrates after winning against Simona Halep (R) of Romania Women's Singles within 2017 US Open Tennis Championships at Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York, United States on August 28, 2017. (Photo by Volkan Furuncu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
FLUSHING MEADOW, NY - AUGUST 28: MARIA SHARAPOVA (RUS) during day one match of the 2017 US Open on August 28, 2017 at Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, Flushing Meadow, NY.(Photo by Chaz Niell/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
FLUSHING MEADOW, NY - AUGUST 28: MARIA SHARAPOVA (RUS) during day one match of the 2017 US Open on August 28, 2017 at Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, Flushing Meadow, NY.(Photo by Chaz Niell/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
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After being denied direct entry into the French Open and Wimbledon, Sharapova was granted a wildcard for the U.S. Open, adding fuel to the debate about rewarding players returning from doping bans that escalated when all the Russian's matches were scheduled for Arthur Ashe Stadium.

The former world number one, however, refused to be distracted from focusing on the job at hand but could not find a route past the 16th-seeded Sevastova.

The match offered up an intriguing contrast of styles, the crafty Latvian against Sharapova's brute power and attacking instincts.

Sharapova had not produced extended stretches of brilliant tennis but her reputation as one of tennis's great battlers remained a constant.

There were few break chances in the opening set but Sharapova was able to convert the two presented to her to take a one-set lead, clinching it with a thundering ace that a flat-footed Sevastova could only watch.

It was the first set surrendered by Sevastova but the feisty 27-year-old was unfazed, hitting back with an early break in the second and fighting off three break chances from Sharapova to level the contest.

Sevastova was gifted a break to open the third when Sharapova double-faulted and the rattled Russian was broken again as the Latvian charged to 3-0 lead.

Sharapova, ever the fighter, broke back and held to cut the deficit to 3-2, putting the pressure back on her opponent.

Sevastova blunted the Russian's fightback with a hold for 4-2 followed by another big break and then served out the contest. (Editing by Clare Fallon)

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