x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Djokovic and Williams march into quarter finals

Novak Djokovic and Venus Williams stride into the Australian Open quarter-finals, while Li Na's success gives China two players in the last eight.

Novak Djokovic returns a shot against Lukasz Kubot during the Australian Open.
Novak Djokovic returns a shot against Lukasz Kubot during the Australian Open.

Novak Djokovic and Venus Williams strode into the Australian Open quarter-finals today while Li Na ensured China has two players in the last eight of a Grand Slam for the first time. Third seed Djokovic, the 2008 winner, joins Spanish defending champion Rafael Nadal, British fifth seed Andy Murray, American seventh seed Andy Roddick and 14th seeded Croat Marin Cilic safely through. Also staying in the hunt was in-form Russian sixth seed Nikolay Davydenko, who was stretched to the limit by Spanish ninth seed Fernando Verdasco before prevailing 6-2, 7-5, 4-6, 6-7 (5/7), 6-3.

Djokovic powered into the quarters with an emphatic 6-1, 6-2, 7-5 win over Poland's unseeded Lukasz Kubot and will meet either France's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who he beat in the 2008 final, or Spanish 26th seed Nicolas Almagro. The Serbian struggled with his form in the opening two rounds, but has moved up a gear and is back with the dominant 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. "That's why we had a longer third set. In general, I was very happy with the way I performed today." Williams and Li join Justine Henin, Nadia Petrova, Maria Kirilenko and Zheng Jie in the last eight.

Williams bounced back from a set down to oust Italian 17th seed Francesca Schiavone 3-6, 6-2, 6-1. Defending champion Serena Williams ended Australian hopes in the women's draw when she cruised past Samantha Stosur 6-4, 6-2 today to reach the quarter-finals. Williams will next play either seventh seed Victoria Azarenka or ninth seed Vera Zvonareva. * AFP