Russia's Ekaterina Makarova etched her name into Australian Open folklore by stunning Serena Williams 6-2, 6-3 in their fourth-round match to end the American's aura of invincibility at Melbourne Park.
Williams, who twisted an ankle in the lead-up to the tournament, was slowed by injury in the 82-minute match on Rod Laver Arena but refused to blame it for her sensational loss to the Russian world number 56.
"She played really well, she went for broke on a lot of shots," Williams told reporters.
"I made 37 errors and that pretty much told the story of the match.
"It was definitely hard moving to that (left) side ... I just did not serve well, it was just disastrous really.
"I never blame any injury I have because I feel like she played really well and deserved the win."
The 13-times grand slam champion was a picture of torment throughout, serving up seven double-faults and routinely pushing her ground-strokes wide.
But Makarova, the lowest-ranked player to reach this year's last 16, served it up to the five-time Australian Open champion, absorbing her firepower and returning it with interest.
The 23-year-old fired sweetly struck winners on important points and showed nerves of steel as she closed out the match on her fourth match point when 12th seed Williams, serving to stay in the match, pushed a backhand wide.
"I don't know what to say, it's an amazing feeling," Makarova said in a courtside interview after raising her arms in the air to raucous applause from the stands.
"I'm really happy that I finished in my way ... It's an unbelievable feeling."
Makarova's win snapped a 17-match winning streak at Melbourne Park for Williams, who won the 2009 and 2010 titles but missed last year's tournament due to injury.
The American's last defeat at the Australian Open was by Jelena Jankovic, who beat her in the quarter-finals in 2008.
The win secured the Russian her first grand slam quarter-final, where she will face either compatriot Maria Sharapova or Germany's Sabine Lisicki, who play in the evening match.
Apart from Williams's semi-final loss to unranked wildcard and eventual champion Kim Clijsters at the 2009 US Open, Makarova was the lowest-ranked opponent to knock her out of a grand slam since 85th-ranked American Jill Craybas defeated her in the third round at Wimbledon in 2005.
Williams said she "probably" should not have played in Melbourne due to her injury, but added that she was itching to get back onto the practice courts to find out what went wrong.
"That's usually how I kind of respond," she said.
"I'm thinking already about practising as soon as tomorrow, you know, trying to figure - I can just think of a hundred things I can do."
ReutersTags: sport, australian-open, tennis, melbourne-3000, vic, australia First posted January 23, 2012 16:21:31