Two of the “Big 4″ shrugged off the competition on Monday to move into the quarterfinals at the Australian Open when Roger Federer held off Canadian Milos Raonic 6-4, 7-6(7), 6-4, and Andy Murray rolled Frenchman Gilles Simon 6-3, 6-1, 6-3.
Murray said he had his problems staying focused against Simon, who was obviously not 100 percent after fighting through a nearly-five-hour match in his previous round against fellow Frenchman Gael “Force” Monfils.
“It was kind of tough,” Murray said. “After the first few games it didn’t feel that competitive. That’s why it becomes hard when the emotions aren’t quite into it.”
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga also moved into the quarters after defeating French countryman Richard Gasquet 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2.”
It’s going to be very difficult,” said Tsonga of next facing Federer. “I lost many times against this guy…I have to, how you say, un-respect him? Because if you respect him too much, then for sure you lost.”
Another Frenchman, Jeremy Chardy, gained the quarters after defeating Italy’s Andreas Seppi 5-7, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2. Chardy will next meet Murray.
The American contingent on the women’s side had a sterling day Monday as both Serena Williams and Sloane Stephens moved into the quarterfinals.
The younger Williams sister bulldozed Russian veteran Maria Kirilenko 6-2, 6-0.
“I’m really just out there doing the best I can, just fighting for everything,” said Serena, who is now one match from tying her all-time-best win streak of 21 matches. “I’m here to compete and do the best I can.”
Stephens defeated Bojana Jovanovski 6-1, 3-6, 7-5 to gain her first Grand Slam quarterfinal.
“I’ll just treat it as another match,” said Stephens on next facing Serena, who has been a mentor for her on tour. “It’s still a tennis match and you have to go out and play your game no matter what.”
Former world No. 2 Svetlana Kuznetsova was also a winner, with the unseeded Russian outlasting former No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki 6-2, 2-6, 7-5 with aggressive play.
“I’m really happy with the result but disappointed with the second set because I think I got stuck there, said Kuznetsova, who won 23 of 25 net approaches during the match.
Kuznetsova will next meet world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka, who on Monday returned to her destructive ways in blowing out Russian Elena Vesnina 6-1, 6-1.
Tuesday’s matches in Australia will be the quarterfinals of (4) Aggie Radwanska vs. (6) Li Na, an all-Spanish in (4) David Ferrer vs. (10) Nicolas Almagro, an all-Russian in (2) Maria Sharapova vs. (19) Ekaterina Makarova, and (1) Novak Djokovic vs. (5) Tomas Berdych.
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