Cilic brushes aside Murray challenge

Nadal overcomes Monfils to enter quarters; Serena to take on Clijsters


Andy Murray of Britain reacts during his match against Marin Cilic of Croatia (R) during the US Open quarterfinals. Cilic defeated Murray in three sets. AP Photo Murray had been tipped as one of the favourites to win his first major title here but he scarcely resembled a player rated second best in the world as he yelled, screamed and shouted his way to a 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 last-16 defeat by Croatian Marin Cilic.

"Today I could have been better in pretty much every part of the game, whether it was mental or serve, forehand, backhand returns. I just struggled today. I played poorly," Murray said.
The Briton's abysmal performance left Cilic to face another rising 20-year-old, Juan Martin del Potro, in the quarterfinals. The Argentine sixth seed cantered to a 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 win over Juan Carlos Ferrero.

Ferrero's fellow Spaniard Rafael Nadal looked vulnerable for one set before he ended the antics of French showman Gael Monfils 6-7, 6-3, 6-1, 6-3.

Another former top-ranked player added to the feel-good factor at this year's championships. Belgian mother-of-one Clijsters, who flew into New York with more toys stashed in her suitcase than rackets, showcased her lightning court speed as she dispatched China's Li Na 6-2, 6-4 to reach the semifinals.

Next up for Clijsters, who needed a wildcard to play here as she does not even own a ranking yet, will be three-times champion Williams.

The American second seed has been doing the rounds in New York promoting her autobiography but conserved enough energy to surge past Italian world number 10 Flavia Pennetta 6-4, 6-3.

Looking forward to her match with Clijsters, Williams said: "She's such a great person. I wish only the best for her but obviously not in the next match. Initially I was (surprised with her comeback) but a couple of weeks ago I knew she was someone to watch out for."

While many tennis fans are wondering how Clijsters -- a 26-year-old who has been out of action for over two years -- can create so much havoc at a grand slam, men's world number one Roger Federer had an easy explanation.

"It's like riding a bike; once you know how to ride a bike, you never forget that," said the new father of twins.  "That's why I'm not that surprised. I think it's a beautiful story. It's nice that she hasn't lost the love for the game. Going out of the game at 23, that's for me just shocking. It's nice to see her back in the game."

Federer and the fans may be delighted to see Clijsters back but her vanquished rivals are unlikely to agree.

After taking down 14th seed Marion Bartoli and world number three Venus Williams in previous rounds, Li was the latest to be on the receiving end of the Clijsters masterclass.
No longer bogged down by the litany of injuries that forced her out of the game in 2007, the 2009 incarnation of Clijsters described her amazing run to the last four as "wow."
However, just 15 months ago the thought of becoming the first mother to win a major since Evonne Goolagong in 1980 had not even entered her head.  "I felt like an elephant just trying to move. Even two steps was terrible," recalled Clijsters about her first experience with a racket following the birth of her daughter Jada.

On Monday, it was the usually fleet-footed Murray who lumbered around court.
Carrying a left wrist injury which hindered his two-handed backhand, Murray went into meltdown after failing to take two set points on the Cilic serve at 5-4 in the opening frame.

Murray could have done with some medical attention but instead dropped serve at 5-5 and from then on the 16th seeded Cilic surrendered only four more games.

The Scot's day ended in more heartache as Nadal's victory over Monfils ensured he would lose the number two ranking.

Nadal will next face 11th seed Fernando Gonzalez. The Chilean completed a bad day for the French when he beat seventh seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 3-6, 6-3, 7-6, 6-4 in a lively showdown.

Results (prefix denotes seeding):  Men’s singles (fourth round): 16-Marin Cilic (Croatia) bt 2-Andy Murray (Britain) 7-5, 6-2, 6-2.  6-Juan Martin Del Potro (Argentina) bt 24-Juan Carlos Ferrero (Spain) 6-3, 6-3, 6-3; Rafael Nadal bt Gael Monfils (France) 6-7, 6-3, 6-1, 6-3; Fernando Gonzalez (Chile) bt Jo-Wilfred Tsonga (France) 3-6, 6-3, 7-6, 6-4.
Women’s singles (quarterfinals): Kim Clijsters (Belgium) bt Li Na (China) 6-2, 6-4; Serena Williams (United States) bt 10-Flavia Pennetta (Italy) 6-4, 6-3.

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