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Melbourne Highlights - Day 10

by Alexandra Willis
Wednesday 25 January 2012

Two straight sets wins later, the Big Four are through to the semi-finals of a Grand Slam once again. Andy Murray had a rustier day at the office than he had against Mikhail Kukushkin, especially in the serving department, but managed to not let it affect him unduly as he came through against Kei Nishikori.

With the Japanese press willing on their rising son with every can of coke, Nishikori played flamboyantly and interestingly, but couldn't hurt Murray, who simpled his way through to his fifth consecutive Grand Slam semi-final, and third in a row at Melbourne Park.

There, he will meet Novak Djokovic, the world No.1 and man who has been able to do no wrong since beating the very same Scot in the men's final here last year. Djokovic's win however over world No.5 David Ferrer, also in straight sets, was more about the man himself than the match. Complaining of not being able to breathe, being tired, and various other ailments, for the first time in a long while, Djokovic seemed to have stepped back in time to the pre-2011 incarnation.

That he motored through despite this will be worrying for Team Murray, but there is also the merest hint that Djokovic could be rattled easily when the two face off on Friday.

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The women's semi-finals will be the line-up that everyone hoped for as Petra Kvitova and Maria Sharapova successfully saw off the draw's party crashers, Sara Errani and Ekaterina Makaraova respectively.

Kvitova, first in action on Rod Laver Arena, was made to work hard by the ferocious Italian, and had to come back from 1-4 in the second set. But finding her range on her groundstrokes, after giving herself a stern talking to, Kvitova prevailed 6-4, 6-4 to reach the semi-finals.

There she will face Maria Sharapova, in a re-match of last year's Wimbledon singles final, after the Russian had an easier time of it against Ekaterina Makarova. The unheralded Russian, who had played the match of her life to knock out Serena Williams, couldn't do much to hurt Sharapova, who came through 6-2, 6-3.

Sharapova, on form, is the one you'd fancy to make it into the final, exactly four years after lifting the Daphne Akhurst Trophy, her last Grand Slam title. But, as she showed at Wimbledon, you never quite know what Kvitova has up her sleeve.

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Two famous faces met the press in Melbourne Park today, first, Rod Laver, 50 years since he won the first of his calendar Grand Slams in 1962. Having watched Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer in action yesterday, 'the Rocket,' returned to the banks of the Yarra today. "Boy, 50 years is a long time ago," he said.

The other former champion to take a seat in the Melbourne Park press room was Martina Hingis, competing in the legends event. "It's great to be back, the city where you had success, it's always nice to be back. It's been five years, so it's nice to have played on these courts where I used to, and watch great tennis too."

Britain has two boys in the quarter-finals of the boys' singles as Josh Ward-Hibbert and Kyle Edmund continued their progress Down Under, Ward-Hibbert, the Orange Bowl doubles champion, competing in just his second junior Grand Slam singles, and Edmund playing in only his second junior Australian Open after reaching the semi-finals of the US Open boys' singles last year.

The wheelchair events also began in earnest, with the likes of Peter Norfolk, the 'Quadfather,' and world No.1 Esther Vergeer in action.

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For all the reports and results from Melbourne Park, visit the Official Australian Open website


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