Women’s defending champion Serena Williams looked in ominous form in her fourth-round match against Russia’s Margarita Gasparyan. The world no.1 lost just three games in crushing Gasparyan in mere 55 minutes. Next up for Serena is the long-time rival Maria Sharapova, who needed to work a bit harder in disposing of the fast-rising Belinda Bencic of Switzerland. Other women reaching the round-of-eight on 7th day were; Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska and Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro. While Radwanska fought hard against Germany’s Anna-Lena Friedsam, Suarez Navarro broke Australian hearts by defeating crowd favorite Daria Gavrilova. Among men, world no.1 Novak Djokovic was stretched to five sets by Frenchman Gilles Simon, while world no. 3 Roger Federer easily brushed aside Belgian 15th seed David Goffin. India’s Rohan Bopanna and his Romanian mate Florin Mergea were prevented from reaching the quarters by Filipino Treat Huey and Belarusian Max Mirnyi. Women’s doubles top seeds India’s Sania Mirza and Switzerland’s Martina Hingis reached the third round. Sania also reached the second round of mixed doubles with Croatia’s Ivan Dodig while defending mixed doubles champions Leander Paes and Martina Hingis won in their first match as well.
On Sunday, top-seeded Serena Williams played the fourth-round against Russia’s Margarita Gasparyan. The six-time Australian Open champion began by losing her serve in the opening game but quickly recovered to find her rhythm. The 21-year old Gasparyan had scared Serena in the first round of last year’s Wimbledon as well but the champion had found her groove soon. At Melbourne too, Serena made a strong statement and lost only two more games to Gasparyan to finish a 6-2, 6-1 winner in just under an hour. Fifth seeded Russian Maria Sharapova, however, had a tricky player on hand in her fourth-round match. Belinda Bencic is maturing quickly and she gave a tough fight to the Russian before going down 5-7, 5-7. Sharapova needed to produce her best tennis against Bencic and her victory was laced with 58 winners and 21 aces. Fighting with Sharapova, the Swiss teenager yielded only after 2 hours 5 minutes at the close-roofed Rod Laver Arena. For a place in semifinals, Serena and Sharapova will play against each other for the 21st time in their careers. It will be a rematch of the last year’s final, where Serena easily overwhelmed the Russian. On current count, Sharapova has lost to Serena 17 times consecutively and she will strive to reverse that.
In two other women’s fourth-round matches, Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland defeated Anna-Lena Friedsam of Germany in three sets. After losing the first on tiebreak, Radwanska took the second easily but the two women fought again in the third before Radwanska went through in 2½ hours with a 6-7, 6-1, 7-5 victory. In the other match, Australian Daria Gavrilova began by bageling Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro in first set before the 10th seeded Spaniard took control to inflict a 0-6, 6-3, 6-2 defeat on the Australian.
In a men’s singles fourth round match, defending champion Novak Djokovic was stretched to five sets by Gilles Simon of France. Djokovic won the first easily but Simon took the second on tiebreak. After they exchanged victories in third and fourth sets, Djokovic applied the finish with a 6-3, 6-7, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 triumph in 4½ hours. To reach the semifinals, the Serb will have to deal with the seventh-seeded Japanese Kei Nishikori, who defeated France’s no. 9 seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-4, 6-2, 6-4. In another fourth round match, Swiss maestro Roger Federer scored a convincing 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 win over Belgium’s fifteenth seed David Goffin and will meet Czech Republic’s Tomas Berdych in quarterfinals. Like Djokovic, Berdych also had to play a five-set match against Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut before coming through at 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 1-6, 6-3.
Men’s doubles fourth seeds Rohan Bopanna(India)/Florin Mergea(Romania) exited Australian Open with a 4-6, 3-6 loss against Treat Huey(Philippines )/Max Mirnyi(Belarus). Other Indians, however, progressed further at Melbourne. Sania Mirza/Martina Hingis had a trouble-free passage into third round with a 6-2, 6-3 win against Ukrainian twins Lyudmyla Kichenok/Nadiia Kichenok. The top seeded women’s pair will next face Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova/Italian Roberta Vinci, who defeated Australia’s Jessica Moore/Storm Sanders 6-0, 6-3. Sania and Leander have also reached the second round of mixed doubles with their respective partners. While Sania Mirza and Croatia’s Ivan Dodig beat the Australian combo of Ajla Tomljanovic/Nick Kyrgios 7-5, 6-1, Hingis/Leander defeated Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova(Russia)/Dominic Inglot(GBR) 6-3, 7-5.
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