Venus Williams squandered a match point before losing 2-6,6-3,7-5 to 46th-ranked Carla Suarez Navarro in the biggest upset so far at the Australian Open.
Williams hardly looked like the reigning Wimbledon champion against the 20-year-old Spaniard,who reached the French Open quarterfinals last year as a qualifier in her first Grand Slam. Usually the aggressor with her powerful shots,sixth-seeded Williams was sluggish Thursday as she was broken while serving for the match and dropped the last five games with the crowd cheering loudly for Suarez Navarro to finish off the victory.
She was super consistent and aggressive and just went for her shots, said Williams. Probably one of her best matches shes ever played. Suarez Navarro said she had little choice but to go for her shots: You must be aggressive during all the match because,if not,shes going to take control of you.
Serena Williams struggled earlier and headed to the practice courts after a 6-3,7-5 win over Argentinas Gisela Dulko,ranked 45th. Williams gave her performance a D-minus at best. Rafael Nadal got high marks for a 6-2,6-3,6-2 win over Croatias Roko Karanusic.
His potential semi-final rival,fourth-ranked Andy Murray,wasnt seriously challenged in his first real test,ousting 51st-ranked Marcel Granollers of Spain 6-4,6-2,6-2 in 1 hour and 50 minutes.
The top-ranked Nadal has dropped only 11 games in six sets and next faces Germanys Tommy Haas,who beat Flavio Cipolla of Italy.
Olympic champion Elena Dementieva improved her 2009 winning streak to 12 matches by beating Iveta Benesova. Amelie Mauresmo rallied to beat Britains Elena Baltacha,while fellow Frenchwoman Virginie Razzano ousted No 14 Patty Schnyder of Switzerland 6-3,6-1.
On the mens side,No. 9 James Blake won in straight sets,beating Sebastien de Chaunac. Fifth-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga,last years runner-up,had a tough 6-7 (4),7-6 (8),7-6 (7),6-2 win over Ivan Ljubicic of Croatia. Mario Ancic beat countrymate Ivo Karlovic 5-7,7-5,4-6,6-4,6-3 and will play No. 6 Gilles Simon next. No 12 Gael Monfils and No 24 Richard Gasquet also won.