Super Clijsters dumps Venus

Soderling first man in quarters; Nadal, Murray move into fourth round

 Kim Clijsters celebrates after defeating Venus Williams in the third round of the US Open on Sunday. AP
There was no shortage of drama amid the ideal weather at Flushing Meadows, with Rafael Nadal advancing to the fourth-round with more eyes than usual focused on his abs.


Second seed Andy Murray joined the men's clique still alive for the Open's second week, along with sixth seed Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina, French seventh seed Jo-Wilfred Tsonga, Juan Carlos Ferrero of Spain and Chile's Fernando Gonzalez.

The scores of ticket-holders streaming into a sold-out National Tennis Center correctly sensed that Day Seven of the year's final Grand Slam would be special.
Clijsters' electrifying appearance in the limelight after a two-year hiatus had more than 23,000 in Arthur Ashe Stadium cheering her every move.

She took a bite out of Venus's Big Apple experience with a wacky 6-0, 0-6, 6-4 victory, a one-hour, 42-minute theatrical adventure able to rival anything on nearby Broadway.

"It was unbelievable," said the euphoric Belgian, who left the game to start her family. "I don't really know what to say. It was such a weird match.

"After I lost the second set 6-0 I was just like, okay, just start over and fight for every point," added Clijsters, who will next face Li Na after the Chinese veteran beat Italy's Francesca Schiavone 6-2, 6-3.

Winning on the Open's marquee court provided a sense of deja vu for the unseeded 26-year-old Clijsters, who won the title here in 2005.

"It's still kind of hard to believe," she said. "But then again, I'm not trying to get carried away with it all. Just trying to focus on what I have to do because the tournament's still going."

Since Clijsters' return is only weeks old, the affable Belgian does not even have a ranking.

Clijsters won her serve to close out the match, but had to save to two break points in the process. The former world number one conceded she was ‘shaking’ in the final game.

"My arm felt like 50 pounds or more. But I told myself, 'Look, don't give it away like that.' Try to play aggressive tennis and let her come up with a good shot to win it."
"She played well," offered third-seeded Venus, whose quest for a third Open title -- and first since 2001 -- was derailed. "She's always played well throughout her career. I'm sure she'll continue to do that."

Nadal knocked off Spanish compatriot and childhood friend Nicolas Almagro 7-5, 6-4, 6-4 in a third-round match but the southpaw drew the most attention when he was off the court.

While trailing 2-1 in the third set, the muscle-bound Nadal was flat on his back on the sideline having his stomach taped by tournament medics.

The Majorca native was giving no clues as to the extent of his latest misery, believed to be a problem with his right abdominal muscle that first surfaced in Cincinnati last month.

"No, no, I am a little bit tired to talk about injuries," he said after his two-hour, 39-minute victory. "I am here to try my best every day. I won the match in three sets, so happy for that. I'm going to try my best next round. That's all."

Murray, the Open runner-up in 2008, needed only 90 minutes to extinguish American Taylor Dent 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 and set up a fourth-round encounter with Croat Marin Cilic.

Meanwhile, Roland Garros runner-up Robin Soderling became the first man to reach the quarterfinals on Monday when his eighth-seeded opponent Nikolay Davydenko retired with a leg injury.

Russian Davydenko hobbled around court with his left leg heavily strapped but after losing the third set, he shook his head and informed the umpire he could not continue.

The retirement would also have been a relief for Soderling, who had suffered a dizzy spell during the 7-5, 3-6, 6-2 win. The Swedish 12th seed's victory also set the stage for a possible rematch with Roger Federer, the only man to have beaten Soderling in the last two grand slam events.  Kateryna Bondarenko reached her first grand slam singles quarterfinal on Monday, annihilating Argentina's Gisela Dulko 6-0, 6-0 in the fourth round. Late arrivals on Arthur Ashe would have missed the Ukrainian's 47-minute breeze against an error-strewn opponent who knocked out her seeded older sister Alona in round two.

"I just got some messages to do the revenge for my sister, so I start to think about it when I read the messages," Bondarenko told reporters.

US Open results

Results at the US Open on Sunday (prefix denotes seeding):
Men’s singles, third round: 2-Andy Murray (Bri) bt Taylor Dent (US) 6-3, 6-2, 6-2; 16-Marin Cilic (Cro) bt Denis Istomin (Uzb) 6-1, 6-4, 6-3; 13-Gael Monfils (Fra) bt Jose Acasuso (Arg) 6-3, 6-4, 1-0 (retd); 6-Juan Martin Del Potro (Arg) beat Daniel Koellerer (Aut) 6-1, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3; 7-Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (Fra) bt Julien Benneteau (Fra) 7-6 (7-4), 6-2, 6-4; 11-Fernando Gonzalez (Chi) bt 17-Tomas Berdych (Cze) 7-5, 6-4, 6-4; 3-Rafael Nadal (Spa) bt 32-Nicolas Almagro (Spa) 7-5, 6-4, 6-4; 24-Juan Carlos Ferrero (Spa) bt 9-Gilles Simon (Fra) 1-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7-5) 1-0 (retd).
Women’s singles, fourth round: 10-Flavia Pennetta (Ita) bt 7-Vera Zvonareva (Rus) 3-6, 7-6 (8-6), 6-0; Kim Clijsters (Bel) bt 3-Venus Williams (US) 6-0, 0-6, 6-4; 18-Li Na (Chn) bt 26-Francesca Schiavone (Ita) 6-2, 6-3; 2-Serena Williams (US) bt 22-Daniela Hantuchova (Slo) 6-2, 6-0.

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