French seventh seed Marion Bartoli stunned previously unbeaten world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka 6-3, 6-3 to reach the semi-finals of the Sony Ericsson Open hardcourt tournament on Wednesday.
It was the second consecutive dominating victory in Miami for Bartoli, who brushed aside 22nd seed Maria Kirilenko in the fourth round 6-1, 6-2.
Bartoli ended defending champion Azarenka’s season-long win streak at 26 matches by posting her third win over a world No. 1 and first in three years.
“I really went on court with a lot of belief in myself, and I stayed very focused at the end,” Bartoli said. “I’m so happy.”
Bartoli previously beat former No. 1s Justin Henin of Belgium in 2007 at Wimbledon and Jelena Jankovic two years later at the Australian Open.
Bartoli finished with two aces, five double faults and won 68 percent of her first-serve points against Azarenka in the 97-minute match.
Azarenka had five double faults and won just 49 percent of her first-serve points as she tried, but failed, to play catchup for the second straight match.
In her fourth-round match, Azarenka dropped the first set and then fell behind 5-2 in the second set against Dominika Cibulkova, before fighting back to win in three sets.
However, there would be no magical comeback this time as Bartoli used her counterpunching style to blunt Azarenka’s athletic baseline game.
Bartoli will next face Agnieszka Radwanska, who brought Venus Williams’ comeback to a halt on Wednesday, downing the American 6-4, 6-1.
The 23-year-old Radwanska from Poland reached the semi-finals in Miami for the first time, after getting to the quarter-finals each of the past two years.
She needed 1 hour, 21 minutes to overcome Williams, who was playing her first WTA tournament in more than six months after her abrupt withdrawal from the second round of the US Open, where she revealed she had been diagnosed with the autoimmune disorder Sjogren syndrome.
Williams said it was frustrating not to be able to execute all elements of her game as well as she would like.
“I think out of all the matches, today was probably the one where I had the least pressure in terms of someone who was going to maybe hit winners on me or pressure me. So it was disappointing not to be able to feel my best today,” she said.
Williams, 31, is hoping to raise her world ranking to allow her to compete at the London Olympics.