Australian Jelena Dokic put back the shaky French Open preparation of Venus Williams, hammering the third seed (6-1, 6-2) in a third-round upset at the $1.08-million Italian Open in Rome Thursday.
Dokic took command of the opening set with a break of Williams in the third game after the American saved the first of two break points but netted a backhand on the second.
The Australian teenager forced the seed into more errors and got another break, 4-1 as the Williams attack was nowhere to be seen.
With the Williams forehand non existent, the third seed was unable to impose her game on the fighting challenger.
The win over Williams ranks with 17-year-old Dokic's victory over Martina Hingis in the first round of Wimbledeon last summer.
"It was great victory, as good as when I beat Martina last year," said Dokic.
"To beat someone in the top five, I had to play very well. I'm very content."
Williams had to fight back tears as her mother and a sister comforted her after the loss.
Dokic and Williams had never played, but the Australian, ranked 37th, showed that on a good day she can have the measure of the American two years her senior.
On a day when top seed and world number one Lindsay Davenport dropped out of contention with a lower back injury, which could threaten her for Roland Garros starting a week from Monday, second seeded Nathalie Tauziat won through.
The Frenchwoman defeated Poland's Magadalena Grzybowska (6-3, 4-6, 7-6).
Italian Giulia Casoni, ranked 128th, got the benefit of Davenport's withdrawal shortly before their afternoon match.
The 1999 Australian Open finalist and 12th seeded Amelie Mauresmo, won an all-French battle over last year's losing finalist Mary Pierce (6-3, 6-4).
There was more bad news for France as little-known Fabiola Zuluaga of Colombia knocked out seventh seed Julie Halard-Decugis (6-3, 4-6, 6-2).
Dokic Friday plays 1990 Rome champion Monica Seles, who mounted a comeback over France's Anne-Gaelle Sidot (3-6, 6-1, 6-1). Spain's sixth seed Arantxa Sanchez Vicario beat Czech Denisa Chladova (6-1, 6-4) and next plays Mauresmo - (AFP)
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