MELBOURNE: Former world number one Ana Ivanovic held her nerve to pull off a massive upset and beat injured top seed Serena Williams on Sunday in the Australian Open fourth round.
The Serb came from a set down to win 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, ending the American’s bid to match Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova with 18 Grand Slam titles.
Williams, who was gunning for a sixth Australian crown, revealed afterwards that she had a back injury and had almost pulled out of the tournament before her third-round clash with Daniela Hantochova.
“I almost pulled out. I’m such a competitor. I mean, I probably should have,” she said, without giving specific details on the injury.
But she refused to blame the problem for her defeat.
“I made a tremendous amount of errors, shots I missed I normally don’t miss, I haven’t missed since the ’80s. I’m just not used to missing those shots,” she said.
“I think Ana just played a really good match. She did what it takes to win.”
Williams, whose movement was clearly restricted, pulled out of the doubles on Friday, although the withdrawal was blamed on an injury to sister Venus.
It was a major scalp for Ivanovic, 26, and set up a quarterfinal against either Canadian teenager Eugenie Bouchard or local hope Casey Dellacqua.
“She’s such a great player. Going on to the court today, I really just tried to give my best,” said the Serb, who is on a hot run of form after winning the Auckland International this month.
“I tried to make it a good match. I was very competitive till the last moment, and I’m just very thrilled, obviously.”
Since winning at Roland Garros in 2008, Ivanovic, ranked 14, has only made a Grand Slam quarterfinal once before, at the 2012 US Open.
But under new coach Nemanja Kontic, the Serb has been thriving.