Martina Hingis finally beat both Williams sisters in the same tournament, and handed Venus her worst loss ever in the process.
With a new "wave of confidence," former troubled teenager Jennifer Capriati reached her first Grand Slam final.
The matchup for the Australian Open championship was set after Hingis beat Venus Williams 6-1, 6-1 today, and Capriati knocked out defending champion Lindsay Davenport 6-3, 6-4.
Capriati, the No. 12 seed, reacted by putting her hand behind her head in a gesture of disbelief.
On the men's side, cramps destroyed Patrick Rafter's acrobatic serve-and-volley attack, allowing Andre Agassi, the defending champion, to rally for a 7-5, 2-6, 6-7 (5), 6-2, 6-3 victory. Agassi advances to the Australian Open final.
Hingis Sweeps the Williams Sisters
Capriati, who rates the 1992 Olympic gold medal as the greatest feat of her career, beat Steffi Graf in that final at age 16. That was before her mid-1990s hiatus from tennis with drug and personal problems.
Hingis is seeking her fourth title in the last five Australian Opens.
Williams, who beat Hingis on her way to the Wimbledon and U.S. Open titles, held service only once, committed 38 errors and yielded her second service break of the second set by serving three double faults.
She gave Hingis match point by slamming a volley far out, and then missed a backhand long.
"Things happen all the time for no apparent reason," Williams said.
She said Hingis played her normal consistent, counterpunching game.
"A lot of times I'd be in there and I'd just miss a shot, just giving it back to her," a subdued Williams said. "That's something you can't do, especially in a Grand Slam semifinal."
Williams, however, had been struggling throughout the tournament, needing three sets in three of her first five matches. She had to rally from 3-5 in the final set to beat Amanda Coetzer in Wednesday's quarterfinals.
"It's a sad thing not to go home with the title," Williams said.
Hingis also was responsible for one of Williams' worst previous losses, 6-2, 6-1 in 1997 — "when I was like a baby," the 20-year-old Williams said.
Before rallying from 1-4 in the final set to beat Serena Williams on Wednesday, Hingis watched Venus' slow start against Coetzer.
"[It] was the same thing today," Hingis said.
"I am fitter now and taking the ball earlier, and I think that helps me when I play the power players like the Williamses," Hingis said.
In three previous events, Hingis had beaten one Williams sister and then lost to the other, including the 1999 U.S. Open, won by Serena.
She became the third player to beat both sisters at the same tournament. Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario did it in 1998 and Steffi Graf in '99.
Errors Cost Davenport
Davenport hung her head or banged her racket on the court after some of the 43 errors that accounted for a majority of Capriati's 78 points.
Trying to stay in the match with Capriati serving at 5-4 in the second set, Davenport missed two serve returns, netted a backhand and finally dumped a forehand into the net while chasing a wide shot by Capriati.
"In all the semifinals I've ever played, this was probably the most disappointing in the way that I showed up to play," Davenport said.
Davenport said she was sending balls long because the 93-degree heat made the balls lighter and harder to control.
"Her balls were coming extremely hard, so then it's hard to do what you want with the ball," she added.
Capriati said she was stronger and more aggressive than when she lost to Davenport in last year's semifinals here.
"Maybe I was kind of intimidated by her and the whole moment," Capriati said.
Not this time.
"Just in this tournament, from the beginning, all of a sudden this confidence came over me, like this wave of confidence," said Capriati, who beat No. 4 Monica Seles in the quarterfinals.
"I had to really jump on top of her early, especially on her serve," Capriati said of Davenport. "Maybe I thought she was taking me a little bit lightly there. So I got the early break [in the second game]. I think that helped a lot."
In 1990-91, Capriati also reached three Grand Slam tournament semifinals, but lost each time.
"I was happy just playing and even having a good couple wins here and there, getting my ranking up," Capriati said, referring to her matches early in her comeback. "But now my expectations are going to be higher."
Humid Conditions Break Rafter
"It's tough when you want to chase it down but your legs just seize up," said Rafter, a two-time U.S. Open champion who suffered a similar fate in Australia's 3-1 loss to Spain in last month's Davis Cup finals.
"He really wore me down," said Rafter, the first Australian since 1996 to reach the semifinals of his home country's Grand Slam tournament.
Rafter kept attacking to the end of the 3-hour, 7-minute match.
"You never know what might happen out there, and you've got to try," he said. "I wasn't going to walk off possibly playing my last match of the Australian Open with an injury."
Rafter has said he is going to take a break from tennis after this year, maybe not come back. Agassi, who lost to him in last year's Wimbledon semifinals, said the 28-year-old Rafter should stick around.
With a nighttime temperature of 82 degrees and high humidity, Agassi said, "these were tough conditions. We were both working hard. I felt I earned that advantage" of Rafter's faltering legs.
The match was reminiscent of the semifinal last year where Agassi rallied from two sets to one down to beat Pete Sampras.
In the championship match Sunday, he will meet the winner of Friday's all-French semifinal between Sebastien Grosjean and Arnaud Clement.