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Safina edges closer to world No 1
INDIAN WELLS (California), MAR 18 (Agencies):
Published on 19 Mar. 2009 12:16 AM IST
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Dinara Safina continued her advance towards the world number one spot with a straight sets victory against American veteran Jill Craybas at the WTA BNP Paribas Open. The Russian top seed, who can move above the absent Serena Williams in the rankings if she reaches the final, triumphed 7-5 6-4 at Indian Wells to set up a quarter-final tie against eighth seed Victoria Azarenka of Belarus. Belarusian Azarenka downed Israeli Shahar Peer 7-5, 6-4, meanwhile, and defending champion Ana Ivanovic also went through to the last eight following a 6-4 4-6 6-4 win over 12th seed Flavia Pennetta. The fifth-seeded Serbian will face Sybille Bammer in the next round after the Austrian overcame Slovakia’s Daniela Hantuchova 6-3 6-2. Rising 17-year-old Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova continued her run of success, that has included ousting second-seeded Jelena Jankovic in the second round, when opponent Nuria Llagostera Vives - losing 6-3 6-0 at the time - retired with a left hip strain. Russian Pavlyuchenkova will face seventh-seeded Pole Agnieszka Radwanska, who beat Agnes Szavay 6-0 5-7 6-3, next in California. Fourth-seeded Russian Vera Zvonareva also advanced with a 6-4 6-4 victory over China’s Li Na. And Zvonareva will take on ninth-seeded Dane Caroline Wozniacki, a 7-5 6-3 winner over Agnieszka’s younger sister Urszula Radwanska, next. Nadal, Djokovic on course for semis clash World number one Rafael Nadal and defending champion Novak Djokovic are on a collision course at the ATP BNP Paribas Open following their third-round triumphs on Tuesday. Top seed Nadal overcame Russian Dmitry Tursunov 6-3 6-3 at Indian Wells, while third seed Djokovic defeated German veteran Tommy Haas 6-2 7-6 (7-1). That means, provided the Spaniard can come through against Argentina’s David Nalbandian and Djokovic can beat Switzerland’s Stanislas Wawrinka, the pair will meet in the semi-finals in California. “It wasn’t one of my best matches, true. It was tough to play against him,” said Australian Open champion Nadal, who had to save a break point in the final game of his match but won the next three in a row to go through. “He didn’t give me a lot of rhythm. He played good shots, but at the same time made mistakes. I had more mistakes than usual.” Nalbandian has yet to drop a set against Nadal in two career meetings, though, and he showed good form in knocking out Serbia’s Viktor Troicki 6-4 6-2 to progress. Wawrinka had to save two match points in the third-set tie-breaker to advance with a 2-6 7-5 7-6 (10-8) victory over American Sam Querrey, although Djokovic believes he is moving in the right direction. “It was better than the first match,” the 21-year-old Serbian said. “I played really well in the opening set, and then could have done the job a bit earlier. Sixth-seeded Argentine Juan Martin del Potro ran out a 6-2 2-6 7-6 (7-2) winner against Austrian Jurgen Melzer and seventh seed Andy Roddick edged Germany’s Nicolas Kiefer 6-4 7-6 (7-4), meanwhile. The American will face 12th-seeded Spaniard David Ferrer, who rallied for a 3-6 6-4 6-4 victory over unseeded Frenchman Jeremy Chardy, while Del Potro will take on American John Isner. Wildcard Isner came through in straight sets - 6-4 6-4 - against former world number one Marat Safin of Russia.

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