Vera Zvonareva, a semifinalist at the 2011 Australian Open, is out of this year's tournament far sooner than she had hoped to be.
The former world No. 2 suffered an upset loss at the hands of fellow Russian player Ekaterina Makarova, a player not ranked in the Top 50 on the women's tour entering Melbourne Park.
The line score in the match ended at 7-6(7), 6-1 in Makarova's favor as she advances to the fourth round down-under for the second straight year. Makarova now awaits the winner between Serena Williams and Greta Arn, two players scheduled for action later on Day Five from Melbourne.
Zvonareva's loss in the third round promises to set her up for a ranking slide. Failing to defend the vast majority of the points she earned at the 2011 Aussie could see the Russian out of the Top 10 soon.
Additionally, Zvonareva's Grand Slam results have started tapering off in general.
She did not come close to duplicating her Wimbledon 2010 final appearance in 2011. She also failed to make the Flushing Meadows final in 2011 as she had in 2010.
Still just 27 years old, the Russian has time to get back to being a Grand Slam contender. However, she'll have to get back to the form she had a year and a half ago for that to happen.
Seeded seventh at Melbourne Park, her exit from the Australian Open appears to lighten the draw ahead of Serena Williams.
The American should defeat the inexperienced Greta Arn in the third round. Following that, you have to think that Williams will also defeat Makarova, a player who has never won a fourth round Grand Slam singles match before, despite contesting 17 majors ahead of the 2012 Australian Open.
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