US teen Sloane, Serena, Murray blast into Q/finals

Sloane Stephens

File photo: Sloane Stephens: shocks Sharapova

Five-time Australian Open champion Serena Williams blasted into the quarter-finals on Monday, sweeping aside Russian 14th seed Maria Kirilenko in straight sets.

The third seed stormed through 6-2, 6-0 and will play fellow American Sloane Stephens for a place in the semi-finals. Sloane, the 19 year old African American from Florida had earlier earned a 6-1, 3-6, 7-5 win over World No. 56 Bojana Jovanovski of Serbia.

“Little kids go home first week, big girls stay for the second week,” she said ahead of the victory, which propelled her into the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time. It’s her seventh try.

Sloane Stephens: a date with Serena
Sloane Stephens: a date with Serena

Stephens, the 29th seed and soon-to-be second-ranked American, landed 80 per cent of her first serves and made 20 winners in the match that lasted one hour and 53 minutes—her longest of the tournament thus far.

“I’m sure my mom had like four heart attacks,” she said. Her mother, Sybil Smith, and brother Shawn Stephens, were watching at home in Coral Springs.

As the only one still standing of the 17 teenagers who began in the women’s singles draw, Stephens has a chance to become the first teen Grand Slam winner since Maria Sharapova hoisted the U.S. Open trophy in 2006. But she has the hurdle of her mentor and friend, Serena to scale.

Serena Williams: awaits Sloane
Serena Williams: awaits Sloane

Earlier, world number one, Victoria Azarenka needed less than one hour to crush Elena Vesnina of Russia, winning 6-1, 6-1, to start the day.

Svetlana Kuznetsova is also into the quarter finals defeating No. 10 Caroline Wozniacki 6-2, 2-6, 7-5.

In the men’s grouping, Jeremy Chardy defeated No. 21 Andreas Seppi of Italy in four sets to continue the impressive run by Frenchmen in this year’s tournament.

And Andy Murray showed an ailing Gilles Simon no mercy Monday as he swept into the quarter-finals alongside former finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

Tsonga powered past fellow Frenchman Richard Gasquet to set up a meeting against 17-time Grand Slam king Roger Federer or rocket-serving Canadian Milos Raonic, who play later on Monday.

US Open champion Murray was too physical for the troubled French 14th seed Simon, still struggling after a marathon match over the weekend, as he won 6-3, 6-1, 6-3 in 1hr 35min on Hisense Arena.

Simon was barely mobile around the court following Saturday’s nearly five-hour win over fellow Frenchman Gael Monfils, and he was a spent force late in the match.

Murray broke Simon’s serve eight times and hit 32 winners with just 26 unforced errors, while the Frenchman could hardly break into a run inside the final set.

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“I have to try and focus on my side of the court. He’s one of the best movers on the tour and he was clearly struggling in his movement today,” Murray said.

“It was tough, but that’s what Grand Slam tennis is. The games are so physical nowadays and it was 8-6 in the fifth set the other day and nearly five hours, so it was tough for him.”

Simon was sanguine about his exit. “It was just difficult for me today. I just did all I could for the last two days to be able to play this one,” he said.

“It was a painful hour-and-a-half on the court. Andy is a very good player so it’s always very hard to beat him. Without being 100 percent you have almost no chance to do it.”

Murray largely did as he pleased, breaking Simon three times in the opening set, another three times in the second and two more in the final set.

Murray’s 10th victory over Simon took him into his ninth consecutive Grand Slam quarter-final and his 15th overall.

He now faces up to the 36th-ranked Jeremy Chardy in the last eight, following the Frenchman’s four-set win over Italian 21st seed Andreas Seppi earlier on Hisense Arena.

Chardy’s previous best performance at a major was his fourth-round appearance at the French Open in 2008, when he lost to Spaniard Nicolas Almagro.

Meanwhile Tsonga sang the praises of new coach Roger Rasheed as he stepped up his campaign for a maiden Grand Slam win.

The 2008 runner-up was too strong for ninth seed Gasquet, winning 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 in 2hr 20min on Rod Laver Arena.

Tsonga said his game was benefiting from working with his new Australian coach Rasheed, the former mentor to Lleyton Hewitt and Gael Monfils, as he seeks his Grand Slam breakthrough.

“He’s giving me an extra motivation. It’s great because he’s always positive. He wants maybe more than me to win. He’s incredible,” Tsonga said.

“So I try to be at his level and have exactly the same motivation because I think he can move some mountains, because he’s very motivated.”

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