Novak Djokovic remained on course to reclaim his China Open title as he progressed to the quarter-finals yesterday, while women’s top seed Serena Williams also edged into the last eight.
In the women’s doubles quarter-finals, Taiwan’s Chan Yung-jan and partner Zheng Jie of China were defeated 6-4, 6-1 by Sania Mirza of India and Cara Black (8) of Zimbabwe, while Italian duo Roberta Vinci and Sara Errani (1) beat France’s Kristina Mladenovic and Italian partner Flavia Pennetta 6-3, 6-4.
Chan’s compatriot Hsieh Su-wei and partner Peng Shuai of China were one set up against US pair Raquel Kops-Jones and Abigal Spears at press time last night.
Serbia’s Djokovic needed three sets to defeat Fernando Verdasco 7-5, 2-6, 6-2, while Williams claimed victory over Maria Kirilenko in two unconvincing sets, with the scores finishing 7-5, 7-5.
Djokovic’s status as the world No. 1 men’s player is under threat from the second seed in Beijing, Rafael Nadal, who has already made it to the last eight and only needs to reach the final to claim the top spot.
Djokovic took the first set of his second-round match with relative ease, but his unbeaten run in Beijing stretching back to 2009 looked to be in danger when his Spanish opponent took the second set 6-2.
He started brightly in the third, breaking Verdasco at the first attempt to race to a 3-0 lead and again in the final game.
Djokovic, who followed up wins in 2009 and 2010 with victory over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in last year’s final, faces Sam Querrey in the next round.
The American dumped out the tournament’s sixth seed Stanislas Warwinka 6-3, 7-6 (7/2) in their second-round match at Beijing’s National Tennis Center.
French fifth seed Richard Gasquet is also through to the last eight after he defeated Australia’s Bernard Tomic 7-6 (7/2), 6-4.
In the women’s tournament, world No. 1 Serena Williams was forced to summon extra strength at the end of each of her two sets as her Russian opponent became increasingly aggressive.
Williams appeared to be uncomfortable at times on the court, but said she had not picked up any injuries.
“I have little aches everywhere, but I’m feeling okay,” she said.
Kirilenko was poised to claim the first set at 40-0 up with the score at 5-4 in her favor, but after missing three set points, Williams stepped up a gear to overturn the scoreline.
The top seed was also forced to come from behind in the second set, with Kirilenko, a former winner in Beijing in 2005, leading 4-3. However, Williams then broke Kirilenko’s serve before closing in on victory in the third-round match.
It was the second unconvincing victory in Beijing for Williams, who only showed rare moments of her trademark power play when she beat Italian Francesca Schiavone 6-4, 7-5 in her second-round match.
In the quarter-finals, Williams will play today against Caroline Wozniacki, who beat Sloane Stephens 6-3, 6-1 yesterday.
Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska also made it to the quarters, beating Polona Hercog of Slovenia, 6-0, 6-2, while the Czech Republic’s Lucie Safarova ended Andrea Petkovic’s fairy-tale China Open with a hard-fought 6-4, 6-7 (7/4), 7-6 (7-2) victory.
The German had dumped out previous Beijing champions Svetlana Kuznetsova and Victoria Azarenka in the opening rounds.
Seventh seed Angelique Kerber and eighth seed Jelena Jankovic safety negotiated passages through to the last eight.
Kerber, Germany’s top ranked player, defeated Italy’s Roberta Vinci 6-2, 6-4, while Jancovic ruthlessly disposed of Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro in her third-round match, with the Serb taking both sets 6-0, 6-0.
Additional reporting by staff writer