Russia’s Dinara Safina ended the dream run of Australia’s Jelena Dokic, overcoming dogged resistance from her opponent to win 6-4, 4-6, 6-4. The loss ended Dokic’s comeback tournament after years of depression following the antics of her infamous father Damir.
Dokic made a nervous start to the match, dropping her opening service game and racking up 18 unforced errors in the first set.
She managed to break Safina’s serve to level at 3-3 before a mistake off her forehand cost her another break and Safina pounced to claim the first set in 36 minutes.
World No. 3 Safina squandered numerous chances in the second set, committing eight doubt faults and converting only two of her 13 break point opportunities.
After smashing her racquet into the court when Dokic forced the match to three sets, Safina was cautioned about coaching from the sidelines as the Australian harried her in the decider.
She held on but committed 36 unforced errors and allowed Dokic to push her for two hours 17 minutes.
Safina will now meet seventh seeded compatriot Vera Zvonareva for a place in the final after the Russian coolly disposed of France’s Marion Bartoli 6-3, 6-0.
“I’m sorry I had to defeat your Australian,” Safina told the highly patriotic crowd afterwards. “I hope that you will be behind me next time.”
Dokic was philosophical about the defeat.
“I played three sets with the No. 3 player in the world, so everything is positive,” said the former world No. 4.
“I’ve had a great tournament. It’s a little bit disappointing, I had some chances. But sometimes things go your way and sometimes they don’t,” she said.
Bartoli started strongly but rapidly wilted in a one-sided drubbing to a player who is in her first Grand Slam semi-final in 25 attempts.
Zvonareva declared herself ready to win the tournament.
“If I’m coming for the tournament, I’m pretty confident in myself,” she said. “If I’m in the tournament, I’m here to try to win it.”
Bartoli agreed that Zvonareva could go all the way here, where she is yet to drop a set.
“She’s almost like a ball machine, she just puts it back at you all the time with interest,” the Frenchwoman said.
In the men’s singles an exhausted Novak Djokovic surrendered his Australian Open title yesterday when he withdrew from his quarter-final.
The Serbian third seed was trailing 7-6 (7/3), 4-6, 2-6, 1-2 in furnace-like conditions to Andy Roddick on Rod Laver Arena when he turned pale and could not continue, handing the American his fourth semi-final appearance in Melbourne.
Djokovic blamed his retirement on cramps and the heat, with the mercury reaching 35˚C.
“People could see that I was struggling with movement, the main reason is cramping and soreness in the whole body,” said Djokovic, adding that organizers needed to look again at their heat policy.
“That’s something we have to discuss in the future. Of course, it’s concerning a lot of players,” he said.
“As a tournament or as a tennis fan, you don’t want to see a player retiring. You didn’t pay a ticket to come to see somebody retiring the match,” he said.
The seventh seeded Roddick, looking for another Grand Slam title to go with his US Open crown in 2003, was playing high class tennis when Djokovic withdrew and may well have progressed regardless.
But he said the victory was hollow.
“I feel for Novak because he worked so hard to win the title and for him not to get a fair chance to defend it, it’s too bad,” Roddick said, but added that he was happy to go through.