Henin and Serena shellshocked at Aussie Open | sports | Hindustan Times
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Henin and Serena shellshocked at Aussie Open

sports Updated: Jan 22, 2008 15:49 IST
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Maria Sharapova demolished shellshocked top seed Justine Henin to confine her to the Australian Open quarter-final scrapheap on Tuesday alongside defending champion Serena Williams.

In an awesome display that left the world number one helpless, the Russian fifth seed, giving full voice to her trademark grunt, ended Henin's 32-match winning streak with a crunching 6-4, 6-0 victory.

She will now play Serbian fourth seed Jelena Jankovic, who shattered Williams' dream of retaining her title in a 6-3, 6-4 drubbing.

Like Jankovic, Rafael Nadal earned his first Australian Open semi-final when the mercurial Spaniard ruined Jarkko Nieminen's day with a 7-5, 6-3, 6-1 stroll over the 24th seeded Finn.

Henin's last previous defeat was in the Wimbledon semi-final last July, a winning run that made her the most dominant woman since Steffi Graf 18 years ago.

But she never looked in the match against Sharapova, who held the Belgian to 6-0 love in a set for the first time since Jennifer Capriati in Montreal in 2002.

"I really felt like I was in my own bubble today," said Sharapova.

"I came on the court, I wasn't trying to pay attention to her record or how many tournaments she won, which is an increbible number.

"It's amazing when you go out on court and you feel like you're doing the right thing."

Sharapova, out to avenge a humiliating loss in last year's final to Serena Williams, led from the outset and never looked back.

In her match, Williams was outgunned by Serbia's third seed Jankovic, who played through the pain barrier to overcome the American eight-time Grand Slam champion after receiving treatment during the match for a painful left thigh.

The 22-year-old labelled the win her best Grand Slam performance as she finally overcame the injuries that marred her early matches this year, revelling in getting her own back after Williams beat her here last year.

"Getting revenge it feels so good. I'm so happy to be in the semi-final, after having no expectations, having injuries and not really thinking that I can go far," she said

Williams, seeded seventh, was the hot favourite going into the match, and she acknowledged she blew her chances.

"The match was on my racquet and I gave it away," she said after failing to progress beyond the quarter-finals at her fourth straight Grand Slam.

"I went crazy, maybe, and I made a lot of mistakes. I didn't really play the game I wanted to play."

Second seed Nadal reacted best on the pressure points to come away with victory against Nieminen, and was overjoyed at finally breaking his Australian jinx by making the last four.

"I am very happy to be in the semi-final. It's a very important tournament for me to start the season well," he said.

The triple French Open champion has advanced without dropping a set and betters his previous best Australian Open result last year when he reached the last eight.

The Spaniard has the possibility of claiming the world number one ranking off Roger Federer at this year's tournament and is on course to face the top seed in Sunday's final.

Federer could lose the position he has held since February 2004 if he fails to beat James Blake on Wednesday and misses the semi-finals, while Nadal goes on to win the title.

Unseeded Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has a crack at 14th seed Mikhail Youzhny later Tuesday with the winner to play Nadal.

In Wednesday's other quarter-finals, Federer plays 12th seed Blake while in-form Serb Novak Djokovic is up against fifth seed David Ferrer of Spain.

On the women's side, six-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams takes on Serbian fourth seed Ana Ivanovic and Polish dark horse Agnieszka Radwanska, seeded 29, challenges Slovak ninth seed Daniela Hantuchova.