Serena out of Australian Open
MELBOURNE, Australia — Numbers told the surprising story for Serena Williams in her fourth-round loss at the Australian Open on Monday.
Seven double-faults, including four in one game; 37 unforced errors, and a first-serve percentage of just over 50 percent that had her convinced “maybe I should have started serving lefty.”
Some other numbers indicated why her 6-2, 6-3 loss to Russia’s Ekaterina Makarova on what she admitted was a still-sore left ankle was more of a shock, particularly at this stage of the year’s first major.
She has played 43 singles matches at Melbourne Park since she won the first of her five Australian Open titles in 2003, and Monday’s loss was just her third. She’s 54-7 since playing here for the first time in 1998, and she hasn’t gone out this early here since 2006.
“I’m not physically 100 percent, so I can’t be so angry at myself, even though I’m very unhappy,” Williams said. “I know that I can play a hundred times better than I did this whole tournament.”
Without Williams, who injured her left ankle in Brisbane two weeks ago, the only major winners still in contention were Maria Sharapova, defending champion Kim Clijsters and Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova.
Sharapova earned the right to play Makarova in the quarterfinal when she beat Germany’s Sabine Lisicki 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 in a night match. The 2008 champion blew a 3-0 lead in the opening set, needed three set points to win the second and advanced on her second match point despite making 47 unforced errors and eight double-faults.
Top-seeded Caroline Wozniacki, still in search of her first Grand Slam title, played Clijsters in a quarterfinal on Tuesday. The Belgian veteran advanced to the quarterfinals with a comeback win over Li Na on Sunday in a rematch of the 2011 decider, while Kvitova had some trouble late before beating former top-ranked Ana Ivanovic 6-2, 7-6 (2) Monday.
Kvitova will next play Sara Errani of Italy, who beat 2008 semifinalist Zheng Jie 6-2, 6-1.
NOVAK TAMES LLEYTON
Defending men’s champion Novak Djokovic advanced to the quarterfinals and keep alive his chance of winning his third straight Grand Slam by beating Lleyton Hewitt in four sets, 6-1, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3.
He will next play fifth-seeded David Ferrer, who had a 6-4, 6-4, 6-1 victory over Richard Gasquet.
Earlier, two-time runner-up Andy Murray was leading 6-1, 6-1, 1-0 when Mikhail Kukushkin retired from their fourth-round match with a left hip injury, giving Murray an easy path into the quarters.
Murray will next play Kei Nishikori, who had a 2-6, 6-2, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 win over sixth-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the 2008 finalist.
The 22-year-old Nishikori became the first Japanese man in the last eight at the Australian Open in 80 years, and only the second man from his country to reach a Grand Slam quarterfinal since the Open Era started in 1968. Shuzo Matsuoka reached the 1995 Wimbledon quarterfinals.
“Is feeling unbelievable. My first quarterfinal and beating Tsonga, makes me really happy,” Nishikori said. “I hope it’s big in Japan. A lot of people messaged me a couple of days ago about the round of 16 and now the quarterfinals. It’s really exciting.”
Makarova, a 23-year-old Russian left-hander, was equally thrilled about her win over Williams. And considering she’d lost in the first round of the last six tournaments she’d played, in awe over who she beat.
“Yeah, I’m surprised because she’s a great player and it’s really tough to play against her. But, I don’t know, I just feeling so good and so focus. So I played my game, and that’s it. I won against Serena. That’s amazing.” AP
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