Monday, April 21, 2014
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Ivanovic ends Williams’ streak in Australian upset

Australian Open Tennis

Rafael Nadal of Spain reaches for a shot to Gael Monfils of France during their third round match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014.(AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

MELBOURNE, Australia — Serena Williams’ long winning streak came to an end in an upset 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 loss to Ana Ivanovic in the fourth round of the Australian Open on Sunday.

Williams hadn’t lost a match since August, one of only four defeats in 2013, and came into the fourth round with 25 straight wins. It was her 70th match at Melbourne Park, a record in the Open era, and she’d already set the mark for most match wins ever at the Australian Open with her third-round victory.

Ivanovic hadn’t won a set in her four previous matches against Williams, who was a hot favorite to win a sixth Australian Open crown for her 18th Grand Slam title.

Williams has been almost perfect after winning the first set in Australian Open matches, losing only once in 52 previous matches after winning the opening set. But No. 14-seeded Ivanovic got on top early in the second set with some stunning forehand winners and never really let Williams back into the contest.

The 2008 French Open champion won by attacking the best serve in women’s tennis, frequently standing well inside the baseline to receive.

“It’s not easy, you know, playing such a champion … but she is also just a human and I know she has lots of pressure, too.” Ivanovic said. “I just went out there swinging at the ball.”

Ivanovic had 33 winners, including 20 on her forehand side. Williams hit 22 winners but made 31 unforced errors.

The other quarterfinal will feature two women who’ll turn 32 next month, with two-time finalist finalist Li Na beating No. 22 Ekaterina Makarova 6-2, 6-0 and No. 28 Flavia Pennetta upsetting No. 9 Angelique Kerber 6-1, 4-6, 7-5.

Meanwhile, top-seeded Rafael Nadal and two-time defending champion Victoria Azarenka looked as if they were in a hurry to get out for late dinners Saturday while posting straight-set victories in their night matches at the Australian Open.

Nadal continued his dominance of Gael Monfils, beating the Frenchman for the 10th time in 12 matches in a 6-1, 6-2, 6-3 victory in just over two hours to advance to a fourth-round match against Kei Nishikori.

The left-handed Spaniard didn’t play here last year during a seven-month injury layoff, and said he was pleased to be back on a night session at Rod Laver Arena.

“It’s very emotional for me to have the chance to be back here after missing last year,” Nadal said. “I think this is my best match of the tournament so far.”

Azarenka was equally as dominating in beating Yvonne Meusburger 6-1, 6-0 in exactly an hour.

Azarenka will play American Sloane Stephens in the next round in the reprise of an acrimonious semifinal here when Azarenka took a questionable medical timeout that turned the match in her favor.

“We left it all last year here,” Azarenka said when asked about the rematch.

Earlier, the girlfriend and boyfriend pair of Maria Sharapova and Grigor Dimitrov both advanced along with Wimbledon champion Andy Murray and 17-time Grand Slam winner Roger Federer.

And finally, the oppressive heat wave of the past four days gave way to more benign conditions.

Sharapova, who endured the worst of the torrid heat in her second-round match, beat Alize Cornet 6-1, 7-6 (6) to reach the fourth round. The match was played in high humidity but in temperatures of about 22 Celsius (72 Fahrenheit), considerably cooler than the scorching 42 C (108 F) conditions she endured for 3 hours, 28 minutes on Thursday.

Dimitrov reached the second week at a major for the first time when he converted his fifth match point to beat No. 11-seeded Milos Raonic of Canada 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (10).

The 22-year-old Bulgarian is considered one of the up-and-coming players on the men’s tour, as is Raonic. At the end of the match, the two hugged like old mates at the net.

“I think it’s a great stepping stone for me to get into that second week,” Dimitrov said.

Federer had a 6-2, 6-2, 6-3 win over Teymuraz Gabashvili, and three-time finalist Murray reached the fourth round for the sixth straight year with a 7-6 (2), 6-4, 6-2 win over No. 26-seeded Feliciano Lopez.

Elsewhere, 2008 finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga beat fellow Frenchman Gilles Simon 7-6 (5), 6-4, 6-2 and No. 16 Nishikori beat Donald Young, the last American man in the singles draw, 7-5, 6-1, 6-0.

Tsonga next plays Federer, who is No. 6 at this Australian Open, his lowest seeding in more than a decade, after a year in which he didn’t reach a Grand Slam final for the first time since 2002.

Last year, Federer beat Tsonga in the quarterfinals here.

“For me it’s going to be the possibility to have revenge,” Tsonga said.

Murray, playing only his second tournament since minor back surgery in September, only dropped one service game in a 2-hour, 15-minute match and next faces Stefane Robert, a lucky loser from qualifying, who is into the fourth round for the first time after beating Martin Klizan.

“It’s been a good start,” Murray said. “It was very tricky the first couple of matches with the heat, but today was beautiful to play in.”

Two-time finalist Li Na wrapped up a fourth-round win over No. 22 Ekaterina Makarova in less than an hour Sunday to set up a quarterfinal against Flavia Pennetta at the Australian Open.

The 2011 French Open champion broke Makarova’s serve five times and fended off four break points on her own serve during a 59-minute, 6-2, 6-0 win to reach the quarterfinals here for the fourth time in five years.

Pennetta’s late-career revival continued as she reached her first Australian Open quarterfinal with a 6-1, 4-6, 7-5 win over ninth-seeded Angelique Kerber of Germany.

The 28th-seeded Pennetta has played some of her best tennis since returning last February from a wrist injury that caused her ranking to drop as low as No. 166.

Sharapova will next play Dominika Cibulkova, who beat No. 16 Carla Suarez Navarro 6-1, 6-0. Former No. 1-ranked Jelena Jankovic had a 6-4,7-5 win over Kurumi Nara, her third consecutive victory over a Japanese player.

Fifth-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska had a 5-7, 6-2, 6-2 over No. 29 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and will next play Garbine Muguruza of Spain, who ousted former No. 1-ranked Caroline Wozniacki 4-6, 7-5, 6-3.

Stephens, who had an upset win over Serena Williams in the quarterfinals here last year, reached the fourth round at a fifth consecutive major with a 7-5, 6-4 win over Elina Svitolina.

Williams will play her fourth-round match Sunday against 2008 French Open champion Ana Ivanovic. Three-time defending champion Novak Djokovic plays Fabio Fognini in an afternoon match on Rod Laver Arena.

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

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