Melbourne: Fifth-seeded Angelique Kerber has been ousted in the fourth round of the Australian Open by the woman who defeated Serena Williams at the same stage last year. No. 19-seeded Ekaterina Makarova had a 7-5, 6-4 win in the opening match on Sunday on Rod Laver Arena, taking out the highest seed to tumble so far at the season's first major.
Makarova beat Williams in the fourth round in 2012 at Melbourne Park and went on to reach the quarter-finals, which remains her best result at a Grand Slam. Kerber and Makarova were two of only four women in 2012 to beat Williams, who lost only one match in the second half of last season as she collected titles at Wimbledon, the London Olympics, the US Open and the WTA Championships.
Wimbledon semi-finalist Kerber had beaten Makarova three times last year, including in the second round at Wimbledon. "Seems like it was the same this year and last year. Unbelievable feeling," Makarova said. "I really like to play here. The crowd is so perfect."
Kerber is the highest seed to tumble so far at the season's first major.
Kerber said she had trouble with her back, but it didn't affect the outcome, adding that Makarova was capable going further in the tournament. "I think if she played very well, she can, yeah, beat also top players," Kerber said.
The 24-year-old Makarova could meet fellow Russian, No. 2-ranked Maria Sharapova, in the quarter-finals, at the same stage they met last year. Sharapova can advance by beating playing Belgium's Kirsten Flipkens later Sunday in the fourth round.
"Actually I really want to play against Maria because I lost here last year in the quarters and I play a lot of times against her last year," Makarova said. "Now I'm pretty confident and I like my game."