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Australian Open 2013: Kerber top seed to lose so far

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MELBOURNE, Australia — 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 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 quarterfinals, 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 U.S. Open and the WTA Championships.

"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."

In the first men's match Sunday, fourth-seeded David Ferrer had a 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 win over No. 16 Kei Nishikori of Japan to reach the quarterfinals, where he could meet fellow Spaniard Nicolas Almagro.

Nishikori had won two of his previous three matches with Ferrer and was a quarterfinalist in Australia last year, but struggled with 65 unforced errors in the 2-hour, 10-minute match.

If Almagro beats No. 8 Janko Tipsarevic later Sunday, it would set up the first all-Spanish quarterfinal at the Australian Open since 2011, when Ferrer ended Rafael Nadal's bid for a sequence of four consecutive major titles.

No. 1-ranked Novak Djokovic, who has the past two Australian titles, had a night match against No. 15 Stanislas Wawrinka.

Kerber, a Wimbledon semifinalist last year, had beaten Makarova in their previous three matches and went in as favorite at Melbourne Park. She had trouble with her back, but said it didn't affect the outcome of the match, 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 quarterfinals, 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."

"Last year I was so surprised ... and I had so many thoughts in my mind. This year I'm a little bit used to it, so I think I'll be ready to play a good game."

Another pair who met here last year played out a similar result on Saturday night, with No. 2-ranked Roger Federer knocking Bernard Tomic out of the tournament in straight sets to end Australia's participation in either the men's or women's singles draws.

Federer gave the 20-year-old Aussie an instant reality check by breaking him in the very first game to set up a 6-4, 7-6 (5), 6-1 win.

"I elected to serve, considering I was serving really well the last few weeks," said Tomic, who won his first ATP World Tour title at Sydney last week and had a win over No. 1-ranked Novak Djokovic at an exhibition tournament in Perth at the start of the month. "Yeah ... that first service game was important. I lost it. Then I was like, 'Oh, no!'"

Federer, who has won four of his 17 Grand Slam titles at Melbourne Park, also beat Tomic in the fourth round here last year.

"It's not my favorite part of the job beating up on the hometown heroes," Federer told the crowd at Rod Laver Arena, where he has won four of his 17 Grand Slam titles. "But it's nice that you guys sort of invite me back every year."

Federer earned his 250th win at a Grand Slam event, the milestone sprinkled with some of his classic crisp volleys and trademark one-handed backhands.

Federer won the first point of the match with a forehand winner, the first of three in that game, and Tomic only won two points before the Swiss star converted a service break in the first game.

Federer will face Canadian Milos Raonic, who had 7-6 (4), 6-3, 6-4 win over Germany's Philipp Kohlschreiber in a matchup of two big servers.

The third round ended in the early hours of Sunday morning, when No. 14-seeded Gilles Simon outlasted fellow Frenchman Gael Monfils 6-4, 6-4, 4-6, 1-6, 8-6 in a match that finished at 12:32 a.m. local time.

Both men needed treatment from the trainer during the 4 hour, 43-minute match on Hisense Arena, with Simon struggling to shake off soreness in his elbow and Monfils fighting fatigue.

Simon and Jeremy Chardy, who ousted 2009 U.S. Open champion Juan Martin del Potro, were among the four Frenchman who advanced on Saturday.

Their compatriots, No. 7-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga — who beat Slovenian Blaz Kavcic 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 — No. 9 Richard Gasquet — who ousted Croatia's Ivan Dodig 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (2), 6-0 — will meet in the next round.

Del Potro's 6-3, 6-3, 6-7 (3), 3-6, 6-3 loss to Chardy left only three major winners in the men's draw, and they're collectively known as the "Big Three" — Djokovic, Federer and Andy Murray.

Murray, who broke a 76-year drought for British men at the majors with his win at the U.S. Open last year, advanced to the fourth round with a 6-3, 6-4, 7-5 win over Lithuanian qualifier Ricardas Berankis.

Defending women's champion Victoria Azarenka struggled at times before putting away injured American Jamie Hampton 6-4, 4-6. 6-2 in 2 hours, 9 minutes.

No. 3 Serena Williams dropped serve early in the second set before winning the last six games in her 6-1, 6-3 victory against Japan's Ayumi Morita.

Top-ranked Azarenka overcame an early break and fended off triple break point in the seventh game of the deciding set before clinching the match.

Hampton needed a medical timeout for a lower back problem immediately before she served out the second set, and winced in pain throughout the latter half of the match.

"She took a medical timeout but she rips winners all over the place," Azarenka said. "I was like, 'Can I have a back problem?' I'm feeling great, but I'm missing every shot."

Azarenka next plays Elena Vesnina, who beat 16th-seeded Roberta Vinci of Italy 7-6 (4), 6-4.

Williams, aiming for a third consecutive Grand Slam title, will next meet No. 14 Maria Kirilenko, who beat No. 20 Yanina Wickmayer 7-6 (4), 6-3.

Also advancing were former U.S. and French Open winner Svetlana Kuznetsova and former No. 1-ranked Caroline Wozniacki. Sloane Stephens beat Laura Robson 7-5, 6-3 in a matchup between the only teenagers left in the women's draw.

That set the 19-year-old Stephens on course for a fourth-round match against Serbia's Bojana Jovanovski, who ended the run of 42-year-old Kimko Date-Krumm in the third round.

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