Defending champ Serena Williams loses to Jankovic in quarterfinals

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

MELBOURNE, Australia -- Defending champion Serena Williams slumped out of the Australian Open in a 6-3, 6-4 quarterfinal loss to third-ranked Jelena Jankovic today.

Williams, who was unseeded and ranked No. 81 when she won here last year for her eighth Grand Slam title, struggled with her serve and made 36 unforced errors trying to combat Jankovic's go-for-broke game.

Williams had not dropped a set in her four previous matches, including a 6-3, 6-4 result against 12th-ranked Nicole Vaidisova in a rematch of last year's semifinal, but dropped serve twice in the opening set.

Jankovic broke Williams and served for the match at 5-3, only to be broken herself. Williams led 40-15 in the next game only to fall apart again, double-faulting to set up match point, then sending a forehand wide.

"It was an unbelievable match, I am still shaking," said Jankovic, reaching the semifinals for the first time at Melbourne Park and only the third time at a major. "I am so happy.

"I came here with no expectations -- it's amazing to beat the defending champion and in general a champion like Serena, it doesn't happen every day."

Jankovic had to fend off three match points in the third set of her first-round match, which included 15 service breaks, before edging Tamira Paszek, 2-6, 6-2, 12-10.

She followed that with straight-sets wins over Edina Gallovits and Casey Dellacqua and was taken to three by No. 30 Virginie Razzano.

Top-ranked Justine Henin was to play No. 5 Maria Sharapova, the losing finalist last year, later in the day.

James Blake advanced to a quarterfinal match against Roger Federer on Monday, and found himself in a predicament. He was asked if he thought Federer was vulnerable after being taken to 10-8 in the fifth set of a third-round match and a few close calls in his fourth-round win over Tomas Berdych.

"It's just a reminder that everyone's human. You can have a bad day," Blake said, taking the cautious route, after his 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 win over 19-year-old Croatian Marin Cilic.

Blake has only taken one set off Federer in seven previous matches and reached the quarterfinals for the first time in seven trips to Melbourne Park.

The 28-year-old American made it this far at a Grand Slam tournament twice before -- both at the U.S. Open. He lost to Andre Agassi in 2005 and Federer in four sets in '06.

Federer is aiming for a third consecutive Australian title -- a fourth in five years -- and a 13th major to get within one of Pete Sampras' record.

The Swiss star had to come back from a set down in his 4-hour, 27-minute third-round match against Janko Tipsarevic that prolonged the longest day of tennis at any Grand Slam.

"Janko taking him to 10-8 in the fifth shows that it doesn't matter who you are, you can play your best and take him to the limit," Blake said. "A couple breaks here and there, that obviously could have been Janko's match."

Second-ranked Rafael Nadal is against Jarkko Nieminen of Finland and No. 14 Mikhail Youzhny faces Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France in men's quarterfinals Tuesday.

Fifth-seeded David Ferrer beat fellow Spaniard Juan Carlos Ferrero 7-5, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 on Monday night and next faces third-ranked Novak Djokovic, who ousted the last Australian hope when he defeated No. 19 Lleyton Hewitt 7-5, 6-3, 6-3.

Venus Williams had to rally from service breaks in the first set before advancing to the quarters here for the first time in five years with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Marta Domachowska, a qualifier from Poland.

She next faces No. 4 Ana Ivanovic, who had a 6-1, 7-6 (2) win over Denmark's Caroline Woznicki.

No. 9 Daniela Hantuchova is also back in the quarterfinals for the first time since 2003 after beating No. 27 Maria Kirilenko 1-6, 6-4, 6-4 and will next play Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska, who upset No. 14 Nadia Petrova 1-6, 7-5, 6-0.

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