French Open finalist Robin Soderling is out of the Australian Open, losing 1-6, 6-3, 6-1, 4-6, 6-2 to Alexandr Dolgopolov in the fourth round today in the biggest upset so far of the tournament.
The fourth-seeded Soderling hadn’t dropped a set on an eight-match winning streak that started with his run to the final at the Brisbane tuneup event. He dominated the opening set until things suddenly turned around against the 22-year-old Ukrainian, who has reached the quarterfinals in his first trip to the Australian Open and only his fourth major.
Dolgopolov’s cross-court backhand to bring up his first match point was typical of the 50 winners he hit against a stunned Soderling, the highest of the seeded players knocked out of the men’s draw.
Soderling saved three match points, but his run came to an end with another unforced error, his 51st. He was a win away from completing a set of quarterfinals appearances at all four majors.
The 26-year-old Swede had only dropped his serve twice in the year, yet Dolgopolov broke him nine times in the match, including three times after conceding a break himself in the fifth set.
“I’m trying to get his weak side and play uncomfortable for him, then if I have chances to make winners; that’s my game,” Dolgopolov said. “He has one of the hardest balls on tour but I was able to read his serve pretty well. “I saw his shots pretty well, so it paid off.”
He’ll next play either 2010 finalist Andy Murray of Britain or No 11 Jurgen Melzer.
Dolgopolov said his father worked as a coach for the likes of former Ukrainian player Andrei Medvedev, so he sometimes hit with the players when they were practicing.
“For sure I had some good times. I was a bit maybe annoying for some players to play with me,” he said. “It was nice to start a tennis career like that.”
In the earlier women’s match, No 25 Petra Kvitova beat No 22 Flavia Pennetta 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.
Andy Roddick’s fourth-round 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 loss to Stanislas Wawrinka on Sunday night means there’s no Americans in the men’s or women’s quarterfinals.
The eighth-seeded Roddick was the last American man standing. The women were out before the third round ended.
“Obviously wasn’t the showing that we wanted, you know, but I’m doing what I can,” Roddick said.
Roddick’s ouster came on a day when Roger Federer equaled Jimmy Connors’ Open era mark by reaching his 27th straight quarterfinal at a major, and Francesca Schiavone won the longest women’s match in Grand Slam history - a 6-4, 1-6, 16-14 victory over Svetlana Kuznetsova that took 4 hours, 44 minutes.
No 3 Novak Djokovic and No 6 Tomas Berdych also won in the fourth round. Among the women, No 1 Caroline Wozniacki and No 9 Li Na advanced, while No 14 Maria Sharapova lost to No 30 Andrea Petkovic.
Roddick’s departure leaves 2010 finalist Murray as the only player from any of the Grand Slam host countries in the tournament. All the French and the Australian players were already beaten by the end of the third round. There’s two Swiss, but only one can reach the semifinals.
Wawrinka advanced to the first all-Swiss quarterfinal at a major in the Open era, where he’ll run into defending champion Federer.
Federer beat Tommy Robredo 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 to reach the quarterfinals for the 27th major in a row. Connors’ mark came between 1973 and 1983, although he didn’t play every major because he was hurt or didn’t travel to Australia.
Schiavone, the French Open champion, saved six match points, then converted on her third match point in the longest women’s match at a major in terms of time in the Open era. The longest previous record was set in Australia last year when Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova beat Regina Kulikova 7-6 (5), 6-7 (10), 6-3 in 4:19. Said a spent Schiavone: “At the end, you have something more, always.”
The 30-year-old Italian will next meet Wozniacki, who reached the quarterfinals in Australia for the first time with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Anastasija Sevastova. She then caused a bit of stir at her news conference with a tale about being scratched by a kangaroo.
She later returned to Melbourne Park to clarify she’d made up the story and to apologize, saying she didn’t think anyone would believe it.