Tennis: Murray, Zheng rewrite Open history books

Murray throws his wristband into the crowd as he celebrates his victory over John Isner of the US in their men's singles fourth round match on day seven of Australian Open in Melbourne on January 24. AFP photo

MELBOURNE, Jan 24, 2010 (AFP) - Andy Murray and Zheng Jie rewrote the Australian Open history books as they powered into the quarter-finals on Sunday.

Scotland's Murray tamed big-serving John Isner 7-6 (7/4), 6-3, 6-2 to make the last eight for the only time and becoming the first Briton to get that far since John Lloyd in 1985.

His reward is a clash with either defending champion and second seed Rafael Nadal or unseeded Croat Ivo Karlovic, who play later.

Zheng's achievement was equally impressive with the unseeded Chinese upsetting Ukrainian 31st seed Alona Bondarenko, 7-6 (7/5), 6-4.

It gave her the distinction of becoming the first Chinese player to make the quarters at Melbourne Park, as she and Li Na, who plays her fourth round match on Monday, continue to popularise the game in their homeland.

The victory sets her up with a crack at either second seed Dinara Safina or fellow Russian Maria Kirilenko.

Murray, the 2008 US Open finalist, showcased his exciting strokeplay against the 6ft 9in (2.06 metre) tall American and has yet to drop a set in his four victories at the year's opening Grand Slam.

"I've been moving pretty well and I played some great shots out there, so I haven't got much to complain about so far," said the 22-year-old.

"The first set was the key because he is a little bit tired after he won the Auckland tournament last week and he's had some long matches and he's winning doubles here as well."

Zheng, 26, disposed of Bondarenko in one hour, 48 minutes on Hisense Arena, proving to be marginally steadier than the Ukrainian in a match where both women struggled to hold their serves.

The stage was set for a tense battle from the opening game when Bondarenko broke Zheng, but that was the first of many in a topsy-turvy opening set.

The second set began as the first ended, with Zheng breaking Bondarenko, only to lose her serve immediately.

There was another break of serve each until at 4-4 when Zheng broke Bondarenko to love and then held firm as she served for the match, pumping her fist with delight.

"I think Australia is lucky for me because I won my first Grand Slam doubles title in Australia. So I'm also very happy I'm in the singles quarter-final," she said.

"I hope both me and Li Na can be in the semi-finals."

Justine Henin attempts to keep her fairytale comeback on track when she faces fellow Belgian Yanina Wickmayer later Sunday with both players having plenty to prove.

Henin is still finding her feet after an 18-month retirement and admitted after her last round match that she was struggling to recover peak fitness.

World number 16 Wickmayer is in better shape after being forced to go through qualifying after failing to register with organisers in time after having a doping ban suspended.

Third seed Svetlana Kuznetsova is also in action, but has had limited preparation after her third round match ran until nearly 2am on Saturday.

The Russian takes on 19th seed Nadia Petrova, who is on a high after crushing Kim Clijsters in the third round, with the winner playing Henin or Wickmayer for a place in the semis.

Seventh Seed Andy Roddick will aim to join Murray in the quarters when he takes on Chilean 11th seed Fernando Gonzalez in an evening match.

The prize will be a showdown with US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro or 14th seeded Marin Cilic of Croatia.

Source: AFP

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