PARIS, June 2, 2009 (AFP) - Maria Sharapova suffered one of the worst defeats of her career on Tuesday when she was beaten 6-0, 6-2 by Slovakia's Dominika Cibulkova in the French Open quarter-finals.
It was the former world number one's heaviest loss since she went down 6-1, 6-1 to Serena Williams in the fourth round in Miami in 2007.
It could have been a lot worse for sport's most highest-profile woman as Cibulkova, playing in her first Grand Slam quarter-final, had a match point to complete a 6-0, 6-0 humiliation before the Russian managed to put two games together to stop the rot.
Sharapova saved three more match points in the eighth game of the second set before her resistance crumbled with a netted forehand.
Cibulkova, the 20th seed, will now face top seed Dinara Safina, who earlier put out Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, for a place in the final.
Sharapova, playing only her second tournament since a 10-month lay-off because of a shoulder injury, was bidding to reach her second semi-final following a run to the 2007 last four.
The Russian star, whose ranking slumped to 104 in the world during her time off the tour, had won both her previous matches against the pint-sized, 20-year-old Cibulkova and both were on clay.
But Cibulkova, 11 inches (27cm) shorter than the glamorous Russian, was in complete control of the quarter-final, breaking in the first, third and fifth games of the opening set.
The Slovakian was then quickly 1-0 ahead before receiving a code violation for taking too long between points.
It didn't throw her off her stride, however, as she quickly went to 5-0 ahead before squandering her first opportunity to serve for the match.
She wasn't to be denied in the eighth game and slumped to the dirt surface of Court Suzanne Lenglen in celebration.
Sharapova finished with 27 unforced errors to her opponent's tidy nine.