Amelie Mauresmo out of Australian Open
The defending champion is whipped out by unseeded Czech Lucie Safarova, slumping to a shock 6-4, 6-3 loss in the fourth round.india Updated: Jan 21, 2007 12:49 IST
Defending champion Amelie Mauresmo was dumped out of the Australian Open in straight sets by unseeded Czech Lucie Safarova on Sunday, slumping to a shock 6-4, 6-3 loss in the fourth round.
The 19-year-old Safarova comprehensively outplayed the world number three Australian Open and Wimbledon champion to claim victory in and hour and a half.
"It's amazing, I still can't believe it, it's incredible," said Safarova, ranked number 70 in the world.
"It was the first time I played on the Rod Laver Arena and when I was warming up in the morning I was saying 'wow, this is a big court'.
"But I felt really comfortable here with the crowd and everything, I'm really happy."
A dejected Mauremso left centre court without comment after her first Grand Slam defence ended in disaster.
Earlier in the tournament she denied feeling the pressure of being defending champion but appeared rattled as she failed to come back from a lethargic start against a hungry opponent, with her serve misfiring and shots spraying wide.
Safarova will meet either Russian seventh seed Elena Dementieva or Czech Nicole Vaidisova in the quarter-finals.
She came into the Australian Open unheralded after winning only one match in her previous six Grand Slam appearances but showed her potential in 2006 with wins over top 10 players Dinara Safina, Patty Schnyder and Nicole Vaidisova.
Mauresmo, 27, held on and broke the Czech in the fourth game but Safarova kept pressing and was rewarded with a break back in the seventh.
The Frenchwoman struggled to find her radar and pushed her shots wide to give her opponent 12 points on the trot.
She tried to lift but the Czech maintained the momentum and converted another break to take the score to 5-4.
She held serve against a shocked Mauresmo claiming the set in 45 minutes after winning five consecutive games to turn a 1-4 deficit into a 6-4 lead.
The agony continued for Mauresmo when Safarova broke her first service game in the second set then held serve to make it seven games in a row and leave the reigning champion staring down the barrel of an ignominous exit.
When Mauresmo did finally manage to hold her first service game in four attempts she unleashed a huge scream of relief.
But Safarova was relentless, holding serve and taking another break to lead the former world number one 4-1.
Mauresmo's powerful groundstrokes began to belatedly emerge in the next game when she broke Safarova but it was too little too late.
The Frenchwoman defended two match points off her own serve but hit a wild forehand return to give Safarova another chance.
It was enough for the determined Czech, who blasted back a powerful return that Mauresmo hit into the net to give her the biggest sccalp of her career.
First Published: Jan 21, 2007 11:07 IST