Injury-hit Williams misses out on a chance to win a rare calendar-year Grand Slam
Melbourne: Serena Williams crashed out of the Australian Open against Ana Ivanovic Sunday, denying her an 18th major title and the chance to win a rare calendar-year Grand Slam.Williams won the first set but Ivanovic, capitalising on her poor movement and high error-count, took her first ever set against the top seed and then raced through the decider to win 4-6, 6-3, 6-3.
The shock result robs Williams of the chance to join Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova on 18 Grand Slams, and draw nearer to Steffi Graf’s Open-era record of 22.It also puts paid to her bid — talked up by her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou — to win all four Grand Slam titles this year, a feat last achieved by Graf in 1988.
Williams’ departure provides a giant opportunity to those left in the draw, including Ivanovic, defending champion Victoria Azarenka and Li Na, who beat Ekaterina Makarova to reach the quarterfinals.Afterwards, the American world number one confessed that she was on strong medication for a back injury and nearly pulled out injured before her third-round win over Daniela Hantuchova.
“I almost pulled out. I’m such a competitor. I mean, I probably should have,” Williams said.She added: “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.
“Five-time champion Williams has a chequered recent record at the season’s opening Grand Slam. Last year, she struggled with an ankle problem before going out in the quarter-finals.In 2012, she was shocked in the fourth round by Makarova and in 2011, she missed the tournament with a long-standing foot injury. Her last victory at Melbourne Park was in 2010.
Williams was on a 25-match winning streak and at 32, is coming off one of her most successful seasons when she won a career-high 11 titles, including the French Open and US Open.But she appeared unperturbed by the latest setback and gave credit to Ivanovic, now in only her second Grand Slam quarter-final since winning the 2008 French Open.
Meanwhile, the defending champion Novak Djokovic moved past clowning Italian Fabio Fognini into the quarterfinals as he set up a repeat of last year’s classic encounter with Stanislas Wawrinka.The World No. 2 outclassed the Italian 15th seed in straight sets to reach the last eight in quick time, closely followed by David Ferrer and Tomas Berdych.
Djokovic coasted to a 6-3, 6-0, 6-2 victory in just one hour 33 minutes to claim his 19th straight Grand Slam quarter-final, a total only bettered by Roger Federer (36) and Jimmy Connors (27).Djokovic, who is bidding for a fifth Australian title and his seventh Grand Slam, also stretched his unbeaten match run to 28 since the US Open final in New York last September.