Murray on song as Nadal makes painful exit

Tennis: Australian Open: Cilic wears down Roddick in marathon clash; Zheng to meet Henin in semis

Murray on song as Nadal makes painful exit


Painful exit Spain’s Rafael Nadal (right) with Britain’s Andy Murray after retiring hurt     during his Australian Open quarterfinal match on Tuesday. Reuters

Nadal quit when trailing Murray 6-3, 7-6, 3-0 but the match was already as good as over with the Scotsman deservedly on his way to the semifinals after a breathtaking performance.

It has been 74 years since a British man won a Grand Slam title but the wait could soon be over if Murray can maintain his brilliant form for two more matches.

The 22-year-old has not dropped a set in Melbourne and will next face Croatia's Marin Cilic, who wore down seventh seed Andy Roddick 7-6, 6-3, 3-6, 2-6, 6-3 but is nearing exhaustion after spending more than 18 hours on court to get this far.
Justine Henin's dream of winning the women's championship was also edging closer to reality. So too for Zheng Jie, the first Chinese to make the semis in Australia.

Henin booked her place in the last four with a 7-6, 7-5 win over Russia's Nadia Petrova to set up a showdown with Zheng, who defeated Russia's Maria Kirilenko 6-1, 6-3.

Nadal's sad exit was the latest sorry chapter for the Spanish second seed, whose brilliant career has been blighted by knee injuries over the past year.

It remains to be seen how serious this latest problem is but there will be doubts as to whether the 23-year-old can ever scale the same heights as he did 12 months ago, when he held the Australian, French and Wimbledon titles and was ranked number one in the world.

"I've known Rafa since I was 13 or 14 and he is somebody I have always looked up to," fifth seed Murray said courtside. "He is my favourite player to watch because of his energy and I am gutted for him."

Former world number one Henin is playing only her second tournament since coming out of an 18-month retirement and her victory was another triumph for her golden generation.

But her next opponent represents the changing face of women's tennis.

Zheng raised hopes of a first Chinese champion at any Grand Slam after she tormented Kirilenko with her powerful groundstrokes and speed around the court.

It is not the first time Zheng has broken new ground for the world's most populous nation. Four years ago, she teamed up with Yan Zi to win the women's doubles in Australia.

In 2008, she became the first Chinese to make the semifinals at a Grand Slam when she reached the last four at Wimbledon after the All England Club gave her a wildcard.

Beating Kirilenko is one thing, defeating Henin is another.  Cilic became the first Croatian to reach the semifinals at Melbourne Park when he somehow summoned up the energy to fight off American Roddick's comeback from two sets down.

Rishika exits
Indian challenge at the junior event ended with the crushing defeat of Rishika Sunkara in the girls’ singles second round.

The 16-year-old Indian qualifier was demolished 0-6, 2-6 by third seed Russian Daria Gavrilova in the girls’ singles second round at Melbourne Park.

The Delhi girl had lost in the first round of the girls’ doubles with partner Yuki Ito. Vaidik Munshaw had also lost his both singles and doubles first rounds in boys’ events.

Quarterfinal results (prefix denotes seeding): Men’s singles: 5-Andy Murray (Bri) bt 2-Rafael Nadal (Spa) 6-3, 7-6 (7-2), 3-0 (retd); 14-Marin Cilic (Cro) bt 7-Andy Roddick (US) 7-6 (7-4), 6-3, 3-6, 2-6, 6-3.
Doubles: Ivo Karlovic (Cro)/ Dusan Vemic (Serb) bt 5-Lukasz Kubot (Pol)/ Oliver Marach (Aut) 2-6, 7-6 (13-11), 7-6 (7-4); Michael Kohlmann (Ger)/ Jarkko Nieminen (Fin) bt Fernando Gonzalez (Chi)/ Ivan Ljubicic (Cro) 4-6, 6-1, 2-0 (retd).
Women’s singles: Zheng Jie (Chn) bt Maria Kirilenko (Rus) 6-1, 6-3; Justine Henin (Bel) bt 19-Nadia Petrova (Rus) 7-6 (7-3), 7-5.
Doubles: 6-Lisa Raymond(US)/ Rennae Stubbs (Aus) bt 13-Gisela Dulko (Arg)/ Flavia Pennetta (Ita) 4-6, 6-2, 6-2; 2-Venus Williams/ Serena Williams (US) bt 8-Bethanie Mattek-Sands (US)/ Yan Zi (Chn) 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.

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