Maria Sharapova’s encouraging run at the Madrid Open came to an end when she was beaten by Kiki Bertens at the quarter-final stage.
Having made her first major quarter-final since returning from a drugs ban, Sharapova looked in good shape to extend her run when she took the first set 6-4.
But big-hitting Bertens, a former French Open semi-finalist, hit back to win 3-6 6-2 6-3 and leave Sharapova to acknowledge she still has improvements to make.
Sharapova told wtatour.com: “I think it’s a combination of taking the positives but also being a little bit tough on yourself and expecting a bit more.
In the semi-finals Bertens will face seventh seed Caroline Garcia who dispatched home favourite Carla Suarez-Navarro 6-2 6-3 in 77 minutes.
Top seed Simona Halep saw her hopes of winning a third straight Madrid title shattered as she fell 6-4 6-3 to sixth seed Karolina Pliskova.
Pliskova dropped her first service game of the match but hit back with a strong display of serving, and a rising number of unforced errors from the Romanian cost her the chance of victory.
In the late quarter-final, Petra Kvitova made short work of Daria Kasatkina of Russia, charging to a 6-4 6-0 win in just 65 minutes.