Defending champ knocked out
Amelie Mauresmo bows out of the Australian Open in the fourth round.
Last Modified: 21 Jan 2007 07:15 GMT

Lucie Safarova beat defending champ Amelie Mauresmo to go through to the quarter-finals [AFP]

2006 Australian Open champion Amelie Mauresmo was beaten by little known Czech Republic player Lucie Safarova 6-4, 6-3 in a huge upset on Rod Laver Arena as the women's draw was thrown wide open in Melbourne on Sunday.
Safarova, ranked 70 in the world, had won just one grand slam match in six attempts before the Melbourne Park tournament, but has since beaten 14th seed Francesca Schiavone and now world number three Mauresmo to reach the quarter-finals.

"It's amazing I still can't believe it. I'm so happy, it's incredible," Safarova said during her on-court interview.

"It's the first time I'm playing on Rod Laver Arena and in the morning I thought wow this is a big court."

The occasion almost got the better of 19 year-old Safarova, as she fell behind 4-1 in the first set as Mauresmo looked to make quick work of her opponent.

However the defending champ imploded, losing seven straight games to hand Safarova the first set and a break in the second as the Czech player blasted winner after winner from the back of the court.

In the second set it was the challenger who raced to a 4-1 lead, and although the champ clawed one break back, Safarova's exuberance took her through to her first grand slam quarter-final, dumping Mauresmo out in one and a half hours.

Other upsets

Israel's Shahar Peer is also through to the
quarters at the Australian Open [AFP]
Mauresmo wasn't the only big name in the women's draw to suffer a fourth round loss as Russians Svetlana Kuznetsova, Elena Dementieva and Dinara Safina all lost to lower seeded players.

16th seed Shahar Peer continued the upsets when she became the first Israeli woman to reach the quarter-finals of a grand slam after defeating third seed Kuznetsova 6-4 6-2, while seventh seed Dementieva's fragile serve was once again exposed during a 6-3 6-3 defeat by Czech Nicole Vaidisova.

Seeded 10th, rising star Vaidisova is now the highest seed left in the bottom half of the draw leaving the tournament wide open after Li Na completed a terrible day for the Russians when she beat ninth seed Safina 6-2 6-2.

Li, a quarter-finalist at Wimbledon last year, became the first Chinese player to reach the fourth round of the singles draw at Melbourne Park, setting up a clash with three-time former champion Martina Hingis.

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