Second seed Serena Williams of the USA is through to the last eight of the Australian Open after her teenage opponent, Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, retired due to illness. Serena was one-set down and leading 4-2 when Azarenka's condition forced her to withdraw.
"I just felt weak. I was trying to keep going as much as possible. But there is nothing you can do. The last step with me, I would fall over," admitted Azarenka.
It was miserable way to go out of the competition, especially as she had Williams on the ropes. To be more precise, the Belarussian girl had the opportunity to profit from the situation, as the former champion was struggling with her serve, and was so frustrated that she received a warning at the end of the first set for using language unbecoming of a lady.
However, when she saw Azarenka start to wobble, she came over all motherly. "Honestly, I got worried," she said. "I was like, ‘Oh, my goodness’, because she started like walking really slow. The last thing she would want to do would be to fall. It was just weird. I was actually really worried."
China's Zheng Jie added another retirement of the day when her wrist injury forced her to hand the quarter-final ticket to the eight seed Svetlana Kuznetsova. The Russian was leading 4-1 and will now face Williams.
Fourth seed Elena Dementieva overcame Slovakian Dominika Cibulkova 6-2, 6-2 to meet Spanish surprise Carla Suarez Navarro, who progressed to the quarter-final after a 6-3, 6-2 victory over compatriot Anabel Medina Garrigues.
In the men's singles, British Andy Murray, who was thought by numerous tennis observers to be the winner of this year's Australian Open, astonishingly crashed out in the fourth-round match against Spain's Fernando Verdasco. Murray, the fourth seed, won the first set 6-2, but Verdasco, the fourteenth seed, took the second set even more dominantly, 6-1. In the next sets, Murray has led two sets to one when he grabbed the third set 6-1, yet he had to give up his dream of winning his first Grand Slam after losing the next two sets 3-6 and 4-6.
Frenchman Gilles Simon will face top seed Rafael Nadal in the last eight. Simon proceeded 6-4, 2-6, 6-1 without completing the match as his fellow countryman Gael Monfils pulled out due to a wrist problem. Meanwhile, Fernando Gonzalez of Chile failed to repeat his success against Nadal in Australian Open 2007, and the Spaniard won in straight sets 6-3, 6-2, 6-4.
France will be happy to see her other player, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, in the quarter-final. Tsonga downed American James Blake 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (3) to book a meeting with Verdasco.
australianopen.com and espnstar.com
Monday (1/26) results:
1-Rafael Nadal (ESP) def. 13-Fernando Gonzalez (CHI) 6-3, 6-2, 6-4
6-Gilles Simon (FRA) def. 12-Gael Monfils (FRA) 6-4, 2-6, 6-1, ret.
14-Fernando Verdasco (ESP) def. 4-Andy Murray (GBR) 2-6, 6-1, 1-6, 6-3, 6-4
5-Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) def. 9-James Blake (USA) 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (3)
2-Serena Williams (USA) def. 13-Victoria Azarenka (BLR) 3-6, 4-2, ret.
8-Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) def. 22-Zheng Jie (CHN) 4-1, ret.
4-Elena Dementieva (RUS) def. 18-Dominika Cibulkova (SVK) 6-2, 6-2
Carla Suarez Navarro (ESP) def. 21-Anabel Medina Garrigues (ESP) 6-3, 6-2