Djoko, Williams sisters power into next round

2015-01-25 15:00

Novak Djokovic fine-tuned his voice and his game at the Australian Open yesterday, advancing to the fourth round with a straight-sets win over Fernando Verdasco and then urging the crowd of 15?000 to sing Happy Birthday to his mother back home.

After his 7-6(8), 6-3, 6-4 win, the four-time Australian champion had a lengthy on-court interview with Jim Courier and discussed a range of topics, including his childhood memories of tennis.

The Williams sisters had their own celebration of sorts, progressing together to the fourth round of a grand slam tournament for the first time since Wimbledon in 2011.

The sisters were playing on adjoining courts.

When 18-time grand slam champion Serena noticed that older sister Venus was advancing to the second week, it inspired her own 4-6, 6-2, 6-0 win over No?26 Elina Svitolina.

When top-ranked Serena walked onto the Rod Laver Arena, Venus was already down a set and a break on the Margaret Court Arena. Venus, who was diagnosed with an autoimmune condition called Sjogren’s Syndrome in 2011 and has struggled at the highest level in tennis ever since, rallied for a 4-6, 7-6(3), 6-1 win over Camila Giorgi, and that inspired her younger sister.

Venus will have to be at the top of her game in the next round, where she’ll meet No?24 Garbiñe Muguruza, who beat her in the second round at the French Open last year. Muguruza defeated Timea Bacsinszky 6-3, 4-6, 6-0.

In the other fourth-round match in that quarter, two-time champion Victoria Azarenka will meet 2014 finalist Dominika Cibulková. Azarenka, the winner in Australia in 2012 and 2013 but who is unseeded this year because of an injury-interrupted 2014, had a 6-4, 6-4 win over No?25 Barbora Záhlavová-Strýcová. Cibulková beat No?19 Alizé Cornet 7-5,

6-2.

On the men’s side, defending champion Stan Wawrinka cruised to his third straight-sets victory with service breaks to clinch all three sets on his way to a 6-4, 6-2, 6-4 win over Jarkko Nieminen. He’ll have a score to settle in the next round against Guillermo García-López, who had a 6-2, 6-4, 6-4 win over Vasek Pospisil.

Eighth-seeded Milos Raonic reached the fourth round at a fourth consecutive grand slam tournament, firing 22 aces in a 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 win over Benjamin Becker of Germany. He will next play No?12 Feliciano López, who had a 7-6(6), 6-4,

7-6(3) win over Jerzy Janowicz.

Two American men lost night matches, with No?5 Kei Nishikori, the US Open finalist, beating Steve Johnson 6-7(7), 6-1, 6-2, 6-3, and Gilles Müller defeating No?19 John Isner 7-6(4), 7-6(6), 6-4. Muller will next meet Djokovic.

Venus Williams, now 34, a seven-time major winner, next faces sixth-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska, a semifinalist in Australia last year and Wimbledon finalist in 2012, who advanced with a 6-0, 7-5 win over Varvara Lepchenko. In an all-American third-rounder, Madison Brengle beat Coco Vandeweghe 6-3, 6-2.

Williams was as close as two points from defeat in the second set, and Giorgi also had a chance to serve for the match, but couldn’t hold.

World No?3 Rafael Nadal faces South African Kevin Anderson (14) in the fourth round today.

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