Sania in quarters; Nadal puts out Blake

Bopanna-Lu advance; Somdev exits at Tashkent


Sania defeated Kutuzova 6-4, 6-3 in one hour and 23 minutes to set up a tough quarterfinal against second-seeded Frenchwoman Marion Bartoli. Both Sania and Viktoriya served badly in the opening set, committing five double faults each.

But Sania managed to convert a crucial break point to go 1-0 up. The Indian was more in control in the second set and she cut back on her service errors, saving three of the four break points she faced.

Viktoriya, however, continued to serve poorly and was broken thrice by the Indian, who was also helped by the three double faults the Ukrainian committed.
Sania goes into the match against world number 12 Bartoli with a 1-0 head-to-head record as the Hyderabadi had beaten her in the 2005 US Open.

Nadal through

Top seed Rafa Nadal marched into the last 16 of the Shanghai Masters with a thoroughly entertaining 6-2, 6-7, 6-4 victory over American James Blake on Wednesday.

US Open champion Juan Martin Del Potro, however, joined the growing casualty list at the $3.24-million tournament, retiring because of a wrist injury while 7-5, 2-1 down to Austrian Jurgen Melzer.

World number two Nadal beat Blake in three sets on his way to the semi-finals in Beijing last week and on Wednesday needed more than two hours to get past the man he rates as having one of the best returns in the game.

After Nadal raced away with the first set, the pair contested two absorbing sets littered with high-quality winners before Nadal, with Blake serving to take the match into a decisive tiebreak, unleashed a sizzling forehand to clinch victory.

Third seed Del Potro followed Andy Roddick in departing early through injury after the American fourth seed departed with a knee problem on Tuesday. Fifth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France took exactly an hour to dismiss Chinese wild card Zeng Shaoxuan 6-3, 6-3 and set up a third-round clash with Swedish ninth seed Robin Soderling, who beat Spain's Nicolas Almagro 6-4, 7-5. Ivan Ljubicic proved it was possible to play at the top level after 30, despite the gruelling schedule, by upsetting Spanish seventh seed Fernando Verdasco 6-4, 7-6.

The Croatian will meet Gael Monfils in the last 16 after the French 11th seed rallied from a break down in the third set to beat Australia's former world number one Lleyton Hewitt 4-6, 6-4, 6-2.

Marat Safin bid farewell to his adoring Chinese fans after his defeat but not before taking a swipe at his opponent Tomas Berdych and American Andy Roddick. The big Russian suggested Berdych had feigned injury during his 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 win and said the Czech needed to "grow up".

Then he rounded on Roddick and other players who have complained about the length of the season, saying he had suggested it should be made shorter in 2004 but had been shouted down.

Bopanna-Lu win

India challenge ended in the singles event of the Tashkent ATP Challenger with the straight set defeat of Somdev Devvarman even as Rohan Bopanna advanced to the doubles semifinals along with partner Yen Hsun Lu. Seventh seed Somdev lost 3-6, 4-6 to Russia’s Alexandre Kudryavstev in the second round of the $ 1,25,000 hard court event at the Olympic tennis Stadium on Wednesday.

Bopanna though kept the Indian interest alive when he and Taipei’s Lu prevailed over Spanish pair of Inigo Cervantes Huegun and Guillermo Plaso 6-3, 6-4 in the quarterfinals.

The second seed Bopanna and Lu will now take on local favorites Denis Istomin and Murad Inoyatov, who scored a 6-3, 6-0 win over Russian pair of Michail Elgin and Evgeny Kirillov.

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