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Safina powers on, Ivanovic heads home



Latest update : 2009-05-31

Top-ranked Dinara Safina easily swept aside France’s Aravane Rezai 6-1, 6-0 to reach the French Open's quarter-finals. The Russian will go up against Belarussian Victoria Azarenka who brushed away defending champion Ana Ivanovic.

AFP - Top seed Dinara Safina won at a canter to reach the French Open quarter-finals on Sunday but it will not be title-holder Ana Ivanovic she meets there after the Serb lost 6-2, 6-3 to Victoria Azarenka

The 23-year-old Russian brushed aside the challenge of France's Aravane Rezai 6-1, 6-0 in a centre-court mis-match and has conceded just five games in four matches.

Also through to the last eight was comeback queen Maria Sharapova who dug deep for a fourth straight match to see off China's Li Na 6-4, 0-6, 6-4.

She will next go up against Slovakia's Dominika Cibulkova who had too much movement about the court and allround ability for Agnes Szavay of Hungary winning 6-2, 6-4.

Azaranka's win over Ivanovic was no great surprise as she had won three titles this year already while Ivanovic has been laid low with injury and poor form which almost forced her to miss her title defence.

Two breaks of serve in the sixth and eighth games were enough to clinch the first set for the Arizona-based player and when she went 4-0 up in the second it was all but over.

With the crowd cheering for Ivanovic and jeering Azarenko, the Serb did manage two breaks of her own after that, but she could not hold onto her own serve allowing the Belarussian to close out the tie.

Azarenka said she had not been upset by the crowd clearly favouring her opponent.

"It was expected because she was the champion, but I hope they will be little bit more for me now," she said.

"It's the first time I have made the quarter-finals (of a Grand Slam) and it's a big step for me.

"It will be tough against Safina because she has lost only one match on clay this year and has been killing people, but I will be ready."

Ivanovic said she had been feeling unwell from the middle of the first set.

"I started really well and felt good, but after the third point of the fourth game I started to feel dizzy and lost my balance. It was really hard after that."

Safina's win over Rezai was the perfect result for her as she closes in on winning a first Grand Slam title and proving to herself and her detractors that she is a worthy world No.1.

But it was a poor advertisement for women's tennis as the stage-struck Frenchwoman, who won her first tournament as a professional in Strasbourg earlier this month, capitulated in just 53 minutes.

"Getting into the quarter-finals like this feels good," said Safina.

"I remember Australia (where she reached the final) this year and I don't know how many hours I needed there so I am feeling good right now.

"Since I became number one (April 20) I am playing better and better."

Safina's quickfire win was her 18th win out of 19 matches on clay this season and confirmed her status as favourite to win her first Grand Slam title.

Sharapova was taken the distance in her three earlier matches finding a way to win each time, but she looked to be on the way out as her game fell apart against Li after the Russian had won the first set.

All seemed lost for the former world No.1 after Li went a break up 4-2 in the decider, only for Sharapova to suddenly turn on the power again and win the next four games.

Cibulkova, at 1.61 metres one of the smallest players on the WTA circuit, dominated the rallies against Szavay from the start of their match jumping out into a 4-0 lead and never looking like being caught after that.

"I have nothing to lose from now on in," the Slovak said.

"I was injured before Roland Garros (leg muscle) and didn't play the big tournaments, so I was a bit afraid. But now it's amazing."


Date created : 2009-05-31