Melbourne - Former world number one Ana Ivanovic pulled off a massive upset
by beating injured top seed Serena Williams on Sunday to power into the
Australian Open quarter-finals.
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The Serb came from a set down to win 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, ending the American's
bid to match Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova with 18 Grand Slam titles.
Williams, who was gunning for a sixth Australian crown, revealed afterwards
that she had a back injury and had almost pulled out of the tournament before
her third round clash with Daniela Hantuchova.
"I almost pulled out. I'm such a competitor. I mean, I probably should
have," she said, without giving specific details on the injury.
But she refused to blame the problem for her defeat.
"I made a tremendous amount of errors, shots I missed I normally don't
miss, I haven't missed since the '80s. I'm just not used to missing those
shots," she said.
"I think Ana just played a really good match. She did what it takes to
Williams, whose movement was clearly restricted, pulled out of the doubles
on Friday, although that was blamed on an injury to sister Venus.
It was a major scalp for Ivanovic, 26, and set up a last-eight clash against
either Canadian teenager Eugenie Bouchard or local hope Casey Dellacqua.
"It's amazing, I just wanted to play the best I could," said
Ivanovic. "I'm so thrilled that I played so well. I was very consistent
and I'm happy about that."
Since winning at Roland Garros in 2008, Ivanovic, ranked 14, has only made a
Grand Slam quarter-final once before, at the 2012 US Open.
But under new coach Nemanja Kontic, the Serb has been thriving and came into
Melbourne on the back of winning her 12th career title in Auckland.
She ground down Williams with her sizzling groundstrokes for her first win
against the American in five encounters.
Despite the shock loss, Williams set a new record by appearing in her 70th
match at the Australian Open, surpassing the previous record held by Lindsay
Williams, 32, started with two double faults, helping Ivanovic to three
break point chances, but she saved them all and regrouped.
The serve of Ivanovic lacked the power of her opponent but she mixed it up
enough to hold.
Williams blasted through her next service game and Ivanovic, who has family
in Melbourne and is popular with Australian fans, earning her the nickname
"Aussie Ana", rallied from two points down in the next to hold.
The Serb was moving well and a cross-court forehand gave her a break point
and she grabbed the chance. But her advantage didn't last long with a poor
service game allowing Williams to level.
Williams held serve to be 4-3 in front, yelling her first "C'mon!"
as she pumped herself up.
Ivanovic took it to 4-4 and Williams' lightning fast serves saw her hold before
she turned up the heat and took the set on her second break point.
The second set went to serve until the fifth game when Ivanovic worked her
way to two break points. Williams saved one with a towering serve but she lost
The Serb had another two break points in the seventh game as Williams came
under increasing pressure, but she rose to the occasion, once again saving.
For the third Williams serve in a row, Ivanovic worked her way to break
points and while the American again saved two, she couldn't stop a raking
forehand winner on the third.
Williams was being worn down and the Serb scored a big break to go 2-0 in
front in the third set. The despondent American was broken again and while she
saved one match point in the eighth, Ivanovic served to love for a famous win.Results from the Australian Open on Sunday (x denotes seeding):
David Ferrer (ESP x3) bt Florian Mayer (GER) 6-7 (5/7), 7-5, 6-2, 6-1
Novak Djokovic (SRB x2) bt Fabio Fognini (ITA x15) 6-3, 6-0, 6-2
Tomas Berdych (CZE x7) bt Kevin Anderson (RSA x19) 6-2, 6-2, 6-3
Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI x8) bt Tommy Robredo (ESP x17) 6-3, 7-6 (7/3), 7-6 (7/5)
Flavia Pennetta (ITA x28) bt Angelique Kerber (GER x9) 6-1, 4-6, 7-5
Li Na (CHN x4) bt Ekaterina Makarova (RUS x22) 6-2, 6-0
Ana Ivanovic (SRB x14) bt Serena Williams (USA x1) 4-6, 6-3, 6-3
Eugenie Bouchard (CAN) bt Casey Dellacqua (AUS) 6-7 (5/7), 6-2, 6-0