Murray advances to fourth round

Updated: 29 January 2009 08:44 IST

Andy Murray ran off 11 straight games in another dominating performance, overwhelming Jurgen Melzer 7-5, 6-0, 6-3 to reach the Australian Open fourth round


Andy Murray ran off 11 straight games in another dominating performance, overwhelming Austria's Jurgen Melzer 7-5, 6-0, 6-3 on Saturday to reach the Australian Open fourth round.

The fourth-seeded Murray, seeking his first Grand Slam title, had only 10 unforced errors, including just two in the second set, and overcame a brief lapse toward the end. The 21-year-old Scot next faces No. 14 Fernando Verdasco of Spain and is on track for a possible semifinal matchup against top-ranked Rafael Nadal, who was playing in the late match.

"I hope I can keep this form up," Murray said. "I'm going to have to play my best every match to have a chance."

Serena Williams wasn't in top form again, but she hasn't had to be so far. And there were no distractions as she beat overmatched China's Peng Shuai 6-1, 6-4.

Williams, still chuckling about the man who dashed on court during her doubles match Friday, overcame two service breaks in the second set to keep alive her pursuit of a 10th Grand Slam title.

The crowd in Hisense Arena was definitely pro-Murray, with Scottish flags and tartan hats scattered about on a cool night.

Constantly confounded by Murray's blend of power, speed and spin, Melzer did get a huge ovation when he rallied from 15-40 to hold while down 3-0 in the third set and end Murray's streak of 11 games. He had double breakpoint as Murray served in the next game, only to see the Briton rally.

Melzer broke as Murray served for the match at 5-1 and fended off double match point in the next game. But Murray easily held in the next, finishing it off with his eighth ace.

Sometimes sprinting to his chair during changeovers, Murray has raced through his first three matches in a combined 4 hours and 15 minutes, thanks in part to a 45-minute effort in the first round match when Andrei Pavel retired with a bad back.

The mood seemed almost subdued as play got under way at Melbourne Park, a day after the streaker and a violent clash between Serbian and Bosnian fans kept security guards busy.

Ethnic violence flared Friday after defending champion Novak Djokovic of Serbia beat Bosnian-born American Amer Delic. A chair-flinging skirmish left a woman injured, three men charged with riotous behavior and 30 people ejected by police.

Williams, who graded herself a "D-minus" after her last match, gave herself a better mark against Peng, who has never gotten past the third round in 16 Grand Slams.

Hitting two-handed from both sides, 41st-ranked Peng is mostly a retriever, so while her defense was annoying to Williams, she had only 12 winners to 29 for the American.

But Williams became increasingly frustrated as she was broken twice early in the second before pulling herself together.

"I started making more errors and then I lost my serve a couple times," she said. "Then I think I put too much pressure on myself. Then, next thing I know, I was down."

Luckily for Williams, that's not necessarily a bad thing.

"I was like, `You know, Serena, sometimes you just play better when you're down.' I started playing better."

Her concentration was severely challenged when the streaker danced his way on court a day earlier.

"I noticed he didn't have underwear on. I thought, `OK, I must be seeing things.' Then I just thought, my eyes, my innocent eyes,'" she said, smiling.

Williams next faces No. 13 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, who ousted 2006 Australian Open and Wimbledon champion Amelie Mauresmo.

Olympic gold medalist Elena Dementieva extended her women's winning streak to 13 matches, beating Australia's Samantha Stosur. Carla Suarez Navarro, who had an upset win over reigning Wimbledon champion Venus Williams in the second round, beat fellow Spaniard Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez.

Also advancing were No. 21 Anabel Medina Garrigues, who ousted 12th-seeded Flavia Pennetta of Italy, and No. 18 Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia.

The Bondarenko sisters of Ukraine both were ousted, missing out on a fourth-round meeting. Kateryna lost to No. 22 Zheng Jie of China and older sister Alona fell to No. 8 Svetlana Kuznetsova, the 2004 U.S. Open champion.

No. 14 Fernando Verdasco of Spain beat No. 22 Radek Stepanek to advance along with three Frenchman Saturday.

Among them was fifth-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the runner-up here last year, who beat Israeli Dudi Sela and next meets No. 9 James Blake, who became the second American to reach the final 16, joining Andy Roddick.

Gael Monfils, a French Open semifinalist last year, beat No. 17 Nicolas Almagro of Spain and will face No. 6 Gilles Simon, who ousted No. 19 Mario Ancic of Croatia.

Topics : Tennis Andy Roddick Lukas Dlouhy Rohan Bopanna Leander Paes Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi Maria Sharapova
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