Nadal in form as Murray crumples in Australian Open (Roundup)

January 26th, 2009 - 9:34 pm ICT by IANS  

Rafael NadalMelbourne, Jan 26 (DPA) World No.1 Rafael Nadal maintained perfection with a 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 victory over Fernando Gonzalez and moved into the quarterfinals of the Australian Open tennis here Monday.But the Spaniard is keeping his expectations in check. “I’m playing well, but you never know if it’s gonna be enough,” Nadal said after an 18th Melbourne victory. “I hope to keep playing like this, we will see.”

“All the matches are very, very difficult. The next (against Gilles Simon) will be very tough. I have to be ready for everything.”

The Chilean Gonzalez broke Nadal early in the third set but was unable to hold onto the precarious margin as the top seed levelled in the sixth game and powered through in fine style, still without dropping a set in Melbourne.

Andy Murray became the most notable victim so far as he went down to Spain’s Fernando Verdasco, 6-2, 1-6, 6-1, 3-6, 4-6.

Murray came to Melbourne with a title in Doha to start the season with wins over Roger Federer and Nadal. But the 14th seed Verdasco refused to bow, firing 52 winners to 51 for Murray.

“I had my chances, he served incredible in the fourth and fifth sets,” said the fourth seed Murray. “He deserves the credit for the win.

“I’m disappointed that I lost. But I’ll try and learn from it. I want to win every match that I play, but I’m not going to get down about it.

“I worked very hard in the off season. It’s been a good start to the year.”

Simon Giles of France was one of three players on the day who benefited from retirements from injured or ailing opponents.

The sixth seed reached his first Grand Slam quarter, a 6-4, 2-6, 6-1 victory blighted by the retirement of fellow-French opponent Gael Monfils with a right wrist injury.

“Of course I didn’t want to win like this,” said Simon. “I’m sorry, but that is tennis. But I have a quarter-final to play in two days, and I just have to focus on this.”

France duplicated a 2006 Melbourne Park showing by placing two men into the last eight when last year’s finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga hammering James Blake 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (7-3) in the night match.

Three-time women’s champion Serena Williams and eighth seed Svetlana Kuznetsova also escaped the fourth round the easy way on the Australian Day holiday.

Kuznetsova moved through as China’s Zheng Jie quit just five games into their match trailing 4-1, victim of a hand problem.

Williams was on court for just under 90 minutes when 13th seed Victoria Azarenka succumbed to the effects of a virus, handing over a 3-6, 4-2 win.

The 27-year-old Williams stayed in the race for the WTA number one ranking held by defeated Jelena Jankovic, chasing along with Elena Dementieva, a 6-2, 6-2 winner over Dominika Cibulkova, and Russian Dinara Safina.

Williams will next play Kuznetsova, who took her own good luck in stride when her Chinese opponent pulled out before the fifth game.

“I felt sorry for her because she was in great shape,” said the Russian. “She was playing good. This pain I hope is not very dangerous.”

Zie was unable to get a proper scan due to the holiday but said that her wrist just packed up on her without much warning.

Unfancied Carla Suarez Navarro continued to excel as she reached the quarters over Spanish compatriot Anabel Medina Garrigues 6-3, 6-2.

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