MELBOURNE, Australia – Serena Williams lost at the Australian Open for the first time since 2008, struggling with her serve and hitting too many unforced errors in a 6-2, 6-3 loss to Ekaterina Makarova on Monday.
Williams was surprised by the power of the groundstrokes from the Russian left-hander, who at No. 56 was the lowest-ranked woman to make the fourth round of the season’s first major.
Williams had seven double faults – including four in the fifth game of the second set – and 37 unforced errors to give Makarova a spot in the quarterfinals at a major for the first time. She’ll play either 2008 champion Maria Sharapova or Sabine Lisicki.
“I don’t know what to say. Amazing feeling and first time in quarterfinals,” the 23-year-old Makarova said. Williams is “an unbelievable player. It’s really tough to play against her so I’m really happy I finished it in my way.”
The absence of Williams opens up the women’s draw, with Sharapova, defending champion Kim Clijsters and Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova the only major winners still in contention. Clijsters 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) in the opening match of the day.
The 21-year-old Kvitova will next play Serra Errani of Italy, who beat 2008 semifinalist Zheng Jie 6-2, 6-1.
Third-seeded Victoria Azarenka advanced with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Iveta Benesova. She next plays eighth-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska.
On the men’s side, two-time Australian Open runner-up Andy Murray only spent 49 minutes on court and was leading 6-1, 6-1, 1-0 when Mikhail Kukushkin retired from their fourth-round match with a left hip injury, giving him an easy path into the quarterfinals.
He’ll next play Kei Nishikori, who had a stunning 2-6, 6-2, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 win over sixth-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
Roger Federer more or less held a clinic at Rod Laver Arena, earning a 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 victory over Bernard Tomic that moved him into the quarterfinals for a 31st consecutive major.
Federer’s quarterfinal will be his 1,000th tour-level match. He plays 2009 U.S. Open champion Juan Martin del Potro.
Rafael Nadal advanced with a convincing win over fellow Spaniard Feliciano Lopez. He will play Tomas Berdych, hoping to avoid a third consecutive quarterfinal loss in Melbourne.
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