PARIS – Top-ranked Serena Williams was eliminated in the French Open quarter-finals Wednesday, squandering a match point and losing to Australian spoiler Samantha Stosur, 6-2, 6-7 (2), 8-6.
The upset was the second in a row for the No. 7-seeded Stosur, and the third in as many days at Roland Garros. Stosur ended four-time champion Justine Henin’s Roland Garros winning streak at 24 matches in the fourth round.
On the men’s side Tuesday, top-ranked Roger Federer lost to Robin Soderling.
Then Williams made her exit, with stretches of brilliant tennis by Stosur hastening the departure. The Australian, long regarded as a doubles specialist, used her forceful forehand to build a lead, winning 17 consecutive points during one stretch.
Williams mounted one of her patented comebacks, and as the tension built in an error-filled third set, she needed only one point in the 10th game for the victory.
Her forehand sailed an inch long.
Stosur then regained her early form. She hit consecutive cross-court winners to break for a 7-6 lead, then served out the victory, hitting service winners on the final three points.
It was Williams’ first Grand Slam loss since her meltdown in the semifinals of the U.S. Open last September against Kim Clijsters. This time she directed any anger only at herself.
In rallies she often seemed hesitant, indecisive and on the defensive, pinned deep by Stosur’s big forehand and slice backhands. Williams hit one backhand that barely reached the bottom of the net, took an awkward swing at an overhead and flubbed a forehand putaway in the forecourt.
Four-time champion Rafael Nadal was to play fellow Spaniard Nicolas Almagro in the quarter-finals Wednesday, and No. 3 Novak Djokovic of Serbia was to face first-time Grand Slam quarter-finalist Jurgen Melzer of Austria.
On the women’s side Thursday, No. 5-seeded Elena Dementieva will play No. 17 Francesca Schiavone, the first Italian woman to reach the French Open semifinals since 1954. Dementieva has won six of their 10 matches, including the past three.
Schiavone advanced when she upset third-seeded Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark 6-2, 6-3. Dementieva overcame a sore right thigh to beat fellow Russian Nadia Petrova 2-6, 6-2, 6-0.
The men’s semifinal round will be the first at a Grand Slam tournament without Federer since he lost in the third round of the 2004 French Open to Gustavo Kuerten. That’s the last time he lost to anyone other than Nadal at Roland Garros.