MELBOURNE, Australia — Teenaged Sloane Stephens shocked her tennis idol Serena Williams on Wednesday, knocking the five-time champion out in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open.
The 19-year-old, ranked 25th and paired with Williams in the WTA mentoring program, schooled her nominal teacher, 3-6, 7-5, 6-4.
Williams tweaked her back in the second set and went off court for treatment. She said that after hurting an ankle last week and already taking medication, the second injury was all too much.
“It was hard to rotate to the backhand,” she said. “It was giving me trouble. I think my opponent played well and was able to do a really good job.
“I’ve had a tough two weeks between the ankle, which is like this big every day, and my back, which started hurting.”
A stunned Stephens, who grew up with a poster of her tennis heroine on her bedroom wall, was at a loss for words.
She managed to stammer, “Maybe I’ll put my own picture up there now.”
The youngster broke five times as Williams grew more frustrated with her failing game, at one point smashing a racquet into splinters and tossing it behind her chair.
Stephens, the youngest player in the draw, next faces top seed and holder Victoria Azarenka, who beat Svetlana Kuznetsova 7-5, 6-1. Azarenka held onto her number one ranking for another day with the win.
The Belarus player who first earned the WTA top spot with her Melbourne trophy a year ago over Maria Sharapova would need to win it again to stay number one.
Azarenka, who has become accustomed to 11 a.m. starts, took 77 minutes to win the opening set against former No. 2 Kuznetsova, whose ranking now stands 75th after missing the last six months of 2012 with knee problems.
Two-time runner-up Andy Murray was a quarterfinal winner today at the Australian Open.
The third-seeded Murray thoroughly dominated Frenchman Jeremy Chardy in a 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 triumph at Rod Laver Arena.
Murray, who has yet to drop a set at this fortnight, raced out to a 4-0 lead in the opening set. Chardy earned a break while winning the next three games before Murray regained control.
The 25-year-old Murray committed just three unforced errors while taking the second set in 32 minutes. He needed only 35 more minutes to reach his 12th Grand Slam semifinal.
“I’ve done a good job so far in this tournament. I can’t be disappointed with where my game’s at,” said Murray, who awaits the winner of today’s other quarterfinal match between four-time champion Roger Federer and Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.