Samantha Stosur of Australia wrecked the Grand Slam hopes of Serena Williams on Wednesday, outplaying the world number one and top seed 6-2, 6-7 (2/7), 8-6 in a thrilling French Open quarterfinal.
It was an accomplished performance from the 26-year-old Gold Coast resident who firstly contained the power-hitting of the American and then left her gasping with an array of savvy stroke-making.
She could have finished it in straight sets, getting to within two points of the match on serve at 5-3 in the second, but allowed Williams back into the match before stunning her in the decider
The win put Stosur into the Roland Garros semifinals for the second straight year, equalling her best ever performance in a Grand Slam tournament, and confirmed that she now belongs among the elite in the women's game.
For Williams it was the end of her dream of becoming the first woman since Steffi Graf in 1988 to achieve the calendar year Grand Slam of Australian, French, Wimbledon and US Open titles.
"My first chance came at 5-3 and I let that slip and I didn't want that to happen again," said Stosur, who had defeated four-time champion Justine Henin in the previous round.
"It's in situations like these that you really get tested and see that all the hard work pays off."
Williams, who won her 12th Grand Slam title at the Australian Open in January, had not looked at her best in reaching the last eight but with the sun once again gracing the Philippe Chatrier centre-court she was favoured to overpower the Australian seventh seed.
The top seed had the better of the early exchanges and Stosur had to stave of two points in the fifth game before taking a 3-2 lead.
What happened after that stunned Williams as Stosur used her slice to take the pace off the American's groundstrokes and then stung her with angled drives to both flanks.
Stosur rattled off four games in a row to take the first set, clinching it by breaking the Williams serve to love.
The Australian was comfortably holding her own serve and in the second game of the second set she had three more break points at 0-40 only for Williams to claw her way back.
A further break point to Stosur two games later saw Williams pull out a timely big first serve before getting to 2-2.
Williams hung on grimly despite an alarming number of unforced errors and double faults but at 4-3 to Stosur, the American finally caved in looping an easy backhand wide on the third break point against her.
Stosur got to within two points of the sealing the biggest win of her career at 5-3 and 30-30 but some typical aggression from the American kept the tie alive.
That seemed to do the trick for the top seed and tournament favourite and suddenly it was Stosur who was hanging on.
The ensuing tie-break was one-way traffic as a fired-up Williams romped ahead from the first point eventually taking it 7-2.
The third set opened with an exchange of breaks after which serves were well on top until 5-4 for Williams when two bad mistakes from Stosur set up a first match point for the American.
The Australian saved this by forcing Williams into hitting a forehand long and she then levelled at 5-5.
Williams had further chances to put the match away but it was Stosur who grabbed the vital break of serve to lead 7-6 and she confidently served out for the win. AFP