Williams crashes out of Australian Open

Williams crashes out of Australian Open

MELBOURNE, Australia - The Associated Press
Williams crashes out of Australian Open

US tennis superstar Serena Williams suffers a defeat at the hands of Russia’s Ekaterina Makarova in two straight sets, in what looks as the biggest upset of the 2012 Australian Open so far. AP photo

Novak Djokovic looked vulnerable for the first time at this Australian Open when Lleyton Hewitt won six straight games to take a set in the last match of a day that had already featured a stunning, upset loss for Serena Williams.

Numbers told the surprising story for Williams in her fourth-round loss yesterday: seven double-faults, including four in one game; 37 unforced errors, and a first-serve percentage of just over 50 percent 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.

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. 

Nobody had taken more than three games in a set off Djokovic in the opening three rounds. He was leading by two sets and a break before Hewitt, who was playing on a wild card entry after his ranking plummeted in an injury-plagued 2011, ended that streak by winning six straight games to force a fourth set.

But Djokovic regained his composure to ensure all of the top five men reached the quarterfinals. He will next play No. 5 David Ferrer, who had a 6-4, 6-4, 6-1 victory over Richard Gasquet of France.

Earlier, Andy Murray was leading 6-1, 6-1, 1-0 when Mikhail Kukushkin retired with a left hip injury.