CARSON, Calif. (AP)
-- Zheng Jie of China upset top-ranked Dinara Safina 7-5, 4-6, 6-4 in the third round of the LA Women's Tennis Championships on Thursday night, beating the Russian for the first time in five career meetings.
"It's amazing for me because I never beat Safina before. I'm very happy," Zheng said. "Before the start of the match, I knew it was very tough. I wanted to try and play more aggressive."
Safina, the defending tournament champion and runner-up at the Australian and French opens this year, is in her 16th consecutive week as the world's top-ranked women's player.
But she hardly looked like the best player, struggling with her serve and numerous unforced errors throughout the match. Safina netted a backhand on match point after being broken at love in the previous game.
"I turned the match around with a break in the third set and I started to play much better and I just didn't use my opportunities," she said. "I didn't do the right things."
Zheng is ranked 23rd in the world. She has won three career titles on the WTA Tour, but none since 2006. She is best known for reaching the semifinals at Wimbledon last year, the first Chinese player to do so.
Zheng won the final three games to take the first set when Safina sent a backhand wide. Zheng led 3-1 in the second and held at 4-all before Safina won the final two games to tie the match.
Safina led 4-2 with a break in the third when Zheng lofted a backhand beyond the baseline. Zheng broke back in the next game, with Safina's second serve hitting the net and bouncing wide for a double fault.
"I was not going for the aces," Safina said. "I was just bringing the ball into play. That was a mistake."
Zheng held for a 4-all tie and then broke Safina at love and held at love to close out her second career victory over a top-ranked player. Zheng beat then-No. 1 Ana Ivanovic in the third round at Wimbledon last year.
"I know she has the big serve, but her moving is not so well. I tried to give her more forehands and get her moving more," Zheng said. "I just want to enjoy it tonight and have some good sleeping."
Earlier, Maria Sharapova rallied for a 4-6, 6-0, 6-3 win over Alona Bondarenko, avenging a 6-2, 6-2 loss in May when Sharapova rejoined the tour after a seven-month layoff because of a right shoulder injury.
"It was good to get the win and get my revenge," Sharapova said. "The second set I started serving a lot better and harder and I returned great and put a lot of pressure on her serve. Then I was able to get the break in the third set and keep the momentum going from the second."
Samantha Stosur defeated sixth-seeded Ivanovic 6-3, 6-2, in the third round. Stosur, seeded 13th, needed 62 minutes to overcome the 2007 tournament champion.
Stosur broke Ivanovic's serve in the eighth game of the opening set and three times in the second set and controlled the match.
Ivanovic struggled with her ball toss on serve throughout the match and said Stosur was "putting a lot of pressure on my serve. I think that was the big difference today because once we got into rallies it was pretty close."
Stosur been a runner-up four times and last week was a semifinalist at Stanford, where she beat Serena Williams. Stosur called the match with Ivanovic "a benchmark to see how quickly you can turn things around" after the loss at Wimbledon.
The win moved Stosur into Friday's quarterfinals against 14th-seeded Zheng, who lost to the Australian in doubles on Wednesday.
No. 2 seed Vera Zvonareva of Russia was a 7-6 (5), 4-6, 6-4 winner over Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium and will face No. 10 seed Flavia Pennetta, who beat fifth-seeded Nadia Petrova 6-3, 6-3. Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland, the No. 8 seed, ousted Anna Chakvetadze of Russia 6-3, 6-2, and was joined in the quarterfinals by younger sister Urszula Radwanska, who advanced when No. 12 seed Li Na of China withdrew because of a right ankle injury.
Agnieszka Radwanska will take on Sorana Cirstea of Romania, who led Sabine Lisicki 6-3, 1-0 when the German retired because of a right shoulder injury.