Eugenie Bouchard pulled off an improbable upset over 2014 Mutua Madrid Open champion Maria Sharapova, 7-5, 2-6, 6-4, to win just her second main draw match in Spain, advancing into the third round.
Bouchard came to Madrid 0-3 at the tour's biggest clay court event, having lost in the first round the last three years in a row.
“Each point was a battle from the first point,” Bouchard said in her post-match press conference. “It was really a fight. I'm just proud that I came out stronger in the end and held it together in the third set.”
Earning a first victory against Alizé Cornet in three sets, the Canadian recovered from a break in the opening set to take the early initiative from the Russian, who was playing her second event of the season.
“As soon as I stepped on the court, I really just wanted to make it about tennis. We both did that. We just battled our hearts out.
“At the end of the day, I think that's the most important. You know, hopefully people enjoyed it, because that's the point of this, right? At the end of the day we're entertainment. I definitely enjoyed it, although I'll be a little sore tomorrow.
Sharapova came back from a set down in her first round against an on-fire Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, and appeared poised for a similar scoreline after storming through the second set, dropping just three points in the final four games.
Battling through multiple long games and 0-40 deficits, Bouchard earned the crucial break in the 10th game, clinching victory after two hours and 51 minutes on court.
“I definitely thought I should have taken care of the first set,” Sharapova said after the match. “I had a letdown, being up a break. I was happy with the way I changed things around in the second, stepped in, was a little bit more aggressive inside the baseline.
“Then the third, kind of felt like it was a similar pattern: set up opportunities, breakpoints, and just did not convert them today.”
Up next for Bouchard is top seed and World No.1-to-be Angelique Kerber, who narrowly ousted Katerina Siniakova in three sets earlier in the day. The former Wimbledon runner-up won their most recent clay court encounter last year at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia.
“I want to maybe rest my brain a little bit, not think about it too much for tomorrow. I have the day off, which is good.
“I want to go for it. I'm the underdog, by far. It's nice to have this position these past couple years. So I want to at least take advantage of that, just go for it, play good tennis, build on this, and enjoy it, kind of just show what I can do.”