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Serena falls to No. 56 Makarova

MELBOURNE, Australia — Five-time champion Serena Williams lost at the Australian Open today for the first time since 2008, struggling with her serve and unforced errors during a 6-2, 6-3 setback against No. 56-ranked Ekaterina Makarova of Russia.

Williams was surprised by the power of the groundstrokes from Makarova, the lowest-ranked player to make the fourth round of the season's first major.

"I don't know what to say. Amazing feeling," the 23-year-old Makarova said.

Williams, a 13-time Grand Slam winner, had seven double faults — including four in one game in the second set — and 37 unforced errors, once saying to herself: "How many double-faults do you want to make?"

Williams sprained her left ankle in a warmup tournament at Brisbane two weeks ago, but didn't seem restricted today.

In an earlier match, down four match points and hobbling on an injured left ankle, defending champion Kim Clijsters rallied to a 4-6, 7-6 (8-6), 6-4 win over Li Na.

Roger Federer ended the run of Australian teenager Bernard Tomic 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 to reach the quarterfinals for a 31st consecutive major.

Clijsters twisted her ankle in the seventh game, but Li failed to serve out the fourth-round match at 5-4 in the second set. Li led 6-2 in the tiebreaker, but Clijsters refused to yield.

"I said in my mind, keep fighting," Clijsters said. "You never know what happens on the other side of the court."

Li's best chance to win the match, and gain revenge for her three-set loss in last year's final, came on her fourth match point. Clijsters hit a poor drop shot, giving Li an open court. Instead, Li hit the ball almost straight to Clijsters, whose lob dropped in.

"Of course I was nervous," Li said. "If you're nervous, you could not think too much, right?"

Clijsters took the tiebreaker and the first four games of the deciding set. She will play top-seeded Caroline Wozniacki, who beat Jelena Jankovic 6-0, 7-5.

Andy Murray led 6-1, 6-1, 1-0 when Mikhail Kukushkin retired from their fourth-round match with a left hip injury.


Australian Open

TV: 7 p.m. Tennis; 9 p.m. ESPN2

Serena falls to No. 56 Makarova 01/22/12 [Last modified: Monday, January 23, 2012 12:29am]
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