Day 8 of the Australian Open saw a vintage performance from Venus Williams. The seven-time Grand Slam champion edged world number six Agnieszka Radwanska in three sets to make her first Slam quarter-final since 2010. Younger sister Serena, meanwhile, battled past Garbine Muguruza to reach the last-eight stage but it was the end of the road for former champion Victoria Azarenka.
Amongst the Indian stars, both Leander Paes and Sania Mirza kept their Australian Open title hopes alive by reaching the mixed doubles quarter-finals.
Williams sisters in Australian Open quarters
Venus Williams rolled back the years to produce a sterling performance at the Rod Laver Arena. The former world number one who had to battle illness and injuries over the past few years is back in a Grand Slam quarter-final after more than four years.
It was not an easy match for Venus as she was facing the Polish world #6, who had also recently tied up with Martina Navratilova. Despite grabbing the first set 6-3 in 51 minutes, Venus allowed Radwanska to make a comeback into the match. For some time it looked like it would be Radwanska who would emerge as the winner as the Pole seized the second set 6-2 and led by an early break in the third.
But Venus Williams refused to give in. She lit up Melbourne Park on Australia Day with a solid display that left Radwanska simply shellshocked. It was a joy to watch as an aggressive Venus Williams reeled off six consecutive games to seal the win 6-3, 2-6, 6-1 and make her entry into the quarters.
When asked about who inspired her to keep on going, Venus replied:
“Definitely my sister Serena. She’s just the ultimate champion. She definitely gives me a lot of inspiration. And of course all of my fans, who’ve always stayed behind me.”
Her sister Serena found herself in a spot of bother early on in her Round of 16 match as she fell behind 2-6 against Garbine Muguruza. The Spanish, World #24 who had beaten the top seed at the French Open last year, kept Serena on the backfoot with her attacking tennis.
But like we have witnessed numerous times before, Serena found inspiration, goaded herself to stage a comeback and eventually took the match with a 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 victory.
Cibulkova finds magic again at the Australian Open
Melbourne Park seems to get the best out of another Australian Open runner-up – Dominika Cibulkova. The Slovakian who reached the final last year but subsequently could not produce any result of note in 2014, found her magic once again on these courts.
Cibulkova was facing a dangerous opponent – Victoria Azarenka who had won seven of their nine career matches. After Cibulkova took the first set 6-2, Azarenka stormed back to take the next one 6-3 and even built a 2-0 lead in the third.
That’s where eleventh seeded Cibulkova started playing some of her best tennis. With some thunderous groundstrokes, she snatched six of the last seven games to end Azarenka’s hopes for a third title. The final score was 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 in favour of Cibulkova.
19-year-old Madison Keys reached the quarter-finals of a Slam for the first time as she beat compatriot Madison Brengle 6-2, 6-4.
Serena Williams v Dominika Cibulkova
Madison Keys v Venus Williams
Ekaterina Makarova v Simona Halep
Eugenie Bouchard v Maria Sharapova
Novak Djokovic – Four-time champion Novak Djokovic notched up a 6-4, 7-5, 7-5 win over Gilles Muller to reach the quarter-finals. This is Djokovic’s 23rd straight Slam quarter-final.
Kei Nishikori – Kei Nishikori had no problems in dismantling David Ferrer 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 to make his entry into the last-eight stage.
Stan Wawrinka – The defending champion was given a stern test by Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez but the Swiss came through with flying colours. Wawrinka prevailed 7-6(2), 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(8).
Milos Raonic – The Canadian number one had the toughest match amongst the men. He overcame Feliciano Lopez in a tight five-setter 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 6-7(7), 6-3. Milos Raonic thus became the first Canadian man in the Open Era to reach the quarters at Melbourne Park.
Novak Djokovic v Milos Raonic
Stan Wawrinka v Kei Nishikori
Tomas Berdych v Rafael Nadal
Andy Murray v Nick Kyrgios
Leander, Sania in mixed doubles quarters of the Australian Open; Nagal wins
Leander Paes and Sania Mirza both brought cheer to the Indian camp by reaching the mixed doubles quarter-finals with their respective partners. Amongst the juniors, Sumit Nagal reached the singles third round.
The top-seeded Sania Mirza and Bruno Soares came through a tough match against Santiago Gonzalez of Mexico and American Abigail Spears. The Indo-Brazilian pair won 7-5, 6-7 (3), 10-8.
Leander Paes and Martina Hingis, seeded seventh, had a much easier outing. The Indo-Swiss duo beat the Spanish pair of Pablo Andujar and Anabel Medina Garrigues 6-3, 6-1.
Amongst the juniors, Sumit Nagal kept his winning momentum to beat Yosuke Watanuki 6-2, 6-3 and enter the third round. In another match, Pranjala Yadlapalli went down 3-6, 0-6 to the top seed Shilin Xu of China.
In doubles, however, both Nagal and Yadlapalli lost. Renta Tokuda/Jumpei Yamasaki defeated Viktor Durasovic/Sumit Nagal 6-1, 7-6(3), while Sara Tomic/Shilin Xu beat Chihiro Muramatsu/Pranjala Yadlapalli 7-6(5), 6-0.
Quarter-final action will kick off on Day 9 at the Australian Open with Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and Maria Sharapova looking to reach the semis again.