Novak survives Swiss inquisition

Sports
Defending champion Novak Djokovic survived an early onslaught and a late fightback from Stanislas Wawrinka in a pulsating fourth-round clash to advance to the quarter-finals of the Australian Open early on Monday. The 15th-seeded Swiss had taken an early 6-1 5-2 lead over the world number one with a powerful serve and booming groundstrokes before Djokovic took greater control of the rallies and waited for Wawrinka to make mistakes.

Wawrinka, however, managed to send the match into a decider when he totally dominated the fourth set tiebreak before the world number one clinched a 1-6 7-5 6-4 6-7 12-10 victory on his third match point with a cross-court backhand winner. The match, which lasted five hours and two minutes, finished at 1.40am local time. "It's really hard to find the words to describe the feeling," an exhausted Djokovic said courtside. "He deserved equally to be a winner of this match. I give him a lot of credit. He showed his qualities. He was the aggressive player on the court. He was playing well, mixing it up, using the right tactics and serving really well."

"I was just trying to hang in there and fight and give every drop of energy."

Djokovic, seeking to become the first man in the professional era to win three successive Australian Open titles, will now meet fifth seed Tomas Berdych in the quarter-finals.

Sharapova in QF

MARIA Sharapova has lost only five games in four matches on the way to the Australian Open quarterfinals, a record at the season's first major that seems to be immaterial to the 25-year-old Russian. The No. 2-ranked Sharapova beat Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium 6-1 6-0 on Sunday to continue a dominant and unparalleled run.

Steffi Graf conceded only eight games in her opening four matches here in 1989, when she won the second of her three straight Australian Open titles. Monica Seles matched that mark. Sharapova has been even more dominant. She started with a pair of 6-0 6-0 wins _ the first time that has happened at a major since 1985 and then beat seven-time Grand Slam winner Venus Williams 6-1, 6-3 in the third round.

It hasn't been as tough this year, but she next plays fellow Russian Ekaterina Makarova, who ousted fifth-seeded Angelique Kerber 7-5 6-4. Li Na, who reached the final here in 2011, saved a set point in the tiebreaker before beating Julia Goerges 7-6 (6) 6-1. She'll next play No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska, who beat No. 13 Ana Ivanovic 6-2 6-4 for her 13th consecutive win.

In men's matches, fourth-seeded David Ferrer had a 6-2 6-1, 6-4 win over No. 16 Kei Nishikori of Japan to reach the quarterfinals, where he will meet Spaniard Nicolas Almagro. Almagro advanced later Sunday, leading 6-2 5-1 when No. 8 Janko Tipsaveric retired from their fourth-round match.

It will be the first all-Spanish quarterfinal at the Australian Open since 2011, when Ferrer ended Rafael Nadal's bid for a sequence of four consecutive major titles. No. 5 Tomas Berdych, who needed five match points in the tiebreaker before beating South Africa's Kevin Anderson 6-3 6-2 7-6 (13) to reach the quarterfinals for the third straight year in Australia.

Indian pair advance

MAHESH Bhupathi joined three more compatriots in the mixed doubles second round of the Australian Open after scoring a straight-set win with partner Nadia Petrova on Sunday. The fifth seeded Indo-Russian pair dumped Australia's Anastasia Rodionova and Dutch Jean-Julien Rojer 6-4 6-2 in the opening round. Bhupathi and Petrova saved six out of the seven break points they faced in the match and that proved crucial in their march towards victory. Now Bhupathi has joined Leander Paes, Rohan Bopanna and Sania Mirza in the pre-quarter-finals.

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