Federer, Williams sisters stride into Aussie Open quarters

A dominant Roger Federer joined the Williams sisters in the Australian Open quarterfinals on Monday while Li Na ensured China has two players in a Grand Slam last eight for the first time.

The world number one Swiss shattered the hopes of local fans by crushing Lleyton Hewitt 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 for his 15th consecutive win over the Australian 22nd seed.

It was an imperious display that set up the 15-time Grand Slam champion with an intriguing last-eight showdown with the in-form Nikolay Davydenko, who has won their last two meetings.

The Russian sixth seed ensured he stayed alive by coming through a marathon five-setter against Spanish ninth seed Fernando Verdasco, prevailing 6-2, 7-5, 4-6, 6-7 (5/7), 6-3.

“He’s beaten me the last two times but I’m hoping, with the best of five sets play, I can get the better of him,” Federer said of Davydenko, while paying tribute to Hewitt.

“I have always had some great battles with Lleyton, he’s a champion and has the ability to make you nervous in a match.”

Third seed Novak Djokovic, the 2008 winner, also progressed with an emphatic 6-1, 6-2, 7-5 win over Poland’s unseeded Lukasz Kubot and will next meet French 10th seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who he beat in the 2008 final.

Tsonga won a thriller against Spanish 26th seed Nicolas Almagro, 6-3, 6-4, 4-6, 6-7 (6/8), 9-7.

They join Spanish defending champion Rafael Nadal, British fifth seed Andy Murray, American seventh seed Andy Roddick and 14th seeded Croat Marin Cilic in the quarters.

Like Federer, women’s defending champion Serena Williams was a class apart as she devoured Australia’s Sam Stosur 6-4, 6-2.

She will play either Belarrussian seventh seed Victoria Azarenka or ninth seeded Russian Vera Zvonareva next as she guns for a fifth title.

“It’s really good to match my game against her serve, because she’s one of the best servers on the tour,” Williams said of Stosur.

“It’s important when you’re playing a local girl to not let the crowd get too involved or else they’ll kill you,” she added. “That was the plan, to not let them get involved.”

Her sister, Venus, seeded six, found the going tougher against Italian 17th seed Francesca Schiavone, losing the first set before bouncing back for a 3-6, 6-2, 6-1 win.

They join Li, Justine Henin, Nadia Petrova, Maria Kirilenko and Zheng Jie in the last eight.

Venus is in her 11th Australian Open campaign but is yet to win the singles crown, in stark contrast to Serena.

But the elder Williams is not beating herself up about her comparative lack of success, insisting a major part of her game plan was staying positive.

She said she could break her Australian drought this year.

“Yeah, I’m ready to go and I feel very good,” said Venus, who has won five Wimbledons and two US Open titles.

She faces Li next after the 16th seed upset Danish fourth seed Caroline Wozniacki 6-4, 6-3.

Her victory broke new ground for Chinese tennis with the 27-year-old joining compatriot Zheng in the last eight, the first time two Chinese players have reached that stage of a Grand Slam.

Li is looking forward to meeting Venus, who she beat in their only previous match at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

“It was a good experience for me, for my tennis,” she said of the Olympic win. “But I just want to forget because I play her again. I want to look forward.”

Djokovic was impressive in his rout of Kubot.

He struggled with his form in the opening two rounds, but has moved up a gear and is back with the touch he displayed in the second half of last year.

“I think the first two sets I was very dominant on the court, then he lifted up his level of the game a little bit,” he said.

“In general, I was very happy with the way I performed today.” — AFP

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Martin Parry
Martin Parry
AFP News Editor for Australia/New Zealand/Pacific

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