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Sharapova sets up Henin clash
January 20, 2008 13:44 IST
Last Updated: January 20, 2008 17:42 IST
Justine Henin [Images] and Maria Sharapova [Images] set up an explosive Australian Open quarter-final with crushing wins but men's fourth seed Nikolay Davydenko's title hopes fizzled out at a drizzly Melbourne Park on Sunday.
The Russian was given a 7-6, 6-3, 6-1 thrashing by 14th-seeded compatriot Mikhail Youzhny.
David Nalbandian, seeded 10th, was also on the wrong end of a pasting, losing 6-1, 6-2, 6-3 to Spain's Juan Carlos Ferrero in a third-round match held over from Saturday.
Third seed Jelena Jankovic advanced safely, however, ending the dream run of home hope Casey Dellacqua with a 7-6, 6-1 tennis lesson in the first match of the night session.
The final match was cut short when Paul-Henri Mathieu pulled out of his clash with second seed Rafael Nadal [Images] trailing 6-4, 3-0. The Frenchman had a leg injury.
Ferrero and Nalbandian took up residence on centre court at 11am, just 6 � hours after the end of Lleyton Hewitt's [Images] epic five-set victory over Marcos Baghdatis. That ended at 4:33am after four hours 45 minutes of see-saw action.
Ferrero's victory could hardly have been more different as he raced past the Argentine in just 104 minutes.
"When you play matches against the top players like today, you want to do your best -- I think I did it very well," he said.
Ferrero next plays compatriot and near namesake David Ferrer for a place in the quarter-finals. The fifth seed swatted aside American Vince Spadea 6-3, 6-3, 6-2.
Davydenko was simply unable to match his compatriot Youzhny on Vodafone Arena, succumbing in tame fashion.
Youzhny next faces Jo-Wilfried Tsonga who beat fellow Frenchman and doubles partner Richard Gasquet 6-2, 6-7, 7-6, 6-3.
"I played well. I was very good in my body. I felt everything good, so that's the difference, maybe," Tsonga smiled.
Youzhny is looking forward to pitting his wits against the powerful Frenchman.
"I have to go on court and try to show 100 percent what I can do with my game. And after we'll see if it will be enough to beat Tsonga."
World number one Henin breezed past Taiwan's Hsieh Su-wei 6-2, 6-2 to book her place in the last eight.
"Now it's like another tournament is going to start. It's gonna be another level," the 25-year-old told reporters.
"There are things I'll have to improve and really raise my level in the next matches."
Fifth seed Sharapova sparkled on the Vodafone Arena, pummelling 11th-seeded fellow Russian Elena Dementieva for the loss of just two games.
"I did a good job of just being solid," the 20-year-old told reporters. "I was seeing the ball well today.
"Quarter-final of a grand slam is not going to be easy, especially when you're playing against someone that's number one in the world."
Champion Serena Williams [Images] posted a solid 6-3, 6-4 win over Czech Nicole Vaidisova and next plays Jankovic.
"I felt like I didn't have a lot of rhythm out there. I felt like lazy, like I wasn't moving the way I wanted to. But overall, I think it boiled down to serves and returns," was the American's no-nonsense analysis.
Dellacqua had fuelled the hopes of a nation with her third- round victory over former world number one Amelie Mauresmo but came up short against Jankovic.
"I let her get away a bit, I guess," the Australian said. "Obviously, she's number [four] in the world but still I am a little bit disappointed."