(CNN) -- Dinara Safina apologised to the Melbourne crowd after ending Jelena Dokic's Australian Open dream -- and then begged for their backing in her semifinal against Russian rival Vera Zvonareva.
Shattered dreams: Dokic waves farewell to her Australian fans after failing to reach the semifinals in Melbourne.
Third-seeded Safina battled through 6-4 4-6 6-4 after seventh-seeded compatriot Zvonareva had breezed into the final four with an emphatic 6-3 6-0 win over Frenchwoman Marion Bartoli.
Former world No.4 Dokic, a wildcard entry now ranked 187 and relaunching her career after battling depression and family issues, gave everything at a patriotic Rod Laver Arena.
"I'm sorry I had to defeat your Australian," Safina told the crowd in her on-court interview. "I hope that you will be behind me next time."
Dokic later reflected on her return to the big time, saying: "I have really fought well this week. I have no regrets. I just would like to keep it going.
"I played three sets with the number three player in the world and can really take the positives out of today. There's absolutely nothing to be disappointed about."
Zvonareva trailed 3-1 in her first set against Bartoli, but then won the next 11 games against an opponent who shocked top seed Jelena Jankovic in the fourth round.
"If I'm in the tournament, I'm here to try to win it," said Zvonareva who has reached a Grand Slam semifinal for the first time in 25 attempts."She's almost like a ball machine, she just puts it back at you all the time with interest," said a battered Bartoli.
Dokic lost a tight first set 6-4 but bounced back in the second to level against her big-hitting rival who served 11 double faults in the match.
Safina led 2-0 in the decider, but Dokic gave her supporters renewed hope when she recovered for 4-4 -- only to concede the next game having saved three break points.
Relieved Russian rival Safina finally wrapped up the match after two hours 17 minutes when Dokic netted.