Azarenka back to best, Chardy wins for France
Updated: 2013-01-21 17:31
Victoria Azarenka of Belarus serves to Elena Vesnina of Russia during their women's singles match at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne, Jan 21, 2013. [Photo/Agencies]
MELBOURNE - Victoria Azarenka returned to her merciless best with a crushing win over Russian Elena Vesnina to make the Australian Open quarterfinals on Monday, as the Gallic juggernaut rolled on with two Frenchmen assured of making the last eight at Melbourne Park.
The world number one Azarenka was the first player in the women's top four seeds to drop a set in her tough third-round match against American Jamie Hampton, and set herself the goal of improving "everything" against the 47th-ranked Vesnina.
The tall Belarusian need not have worried as her opponent offered little resistance in a 6-1 6-1 rout, allowing Azarenka a timely confidence boost ahead of her next match against twice grand slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova.
The march of the French has seen tri-colour flags waving at Melbourne Park, where four of the country's men made the last 16 for the first time since 1998.
Jeremy Chardy of France celebrates defeating Andreas Seppi of Italy in their men's singles match at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne, Jan 21, 2013. [Photo/Agencies]
Jeremy Chardy ensured more cheer for France, as he continued his brilliant run at Melbourne Park with a 5-7 6-3 6-2 6-2 win over 21st seed Andreas Seppi of Italy at Hisense Arena.
"Normally I always play bad in Australia," a thrilled Chardy, who stunned sixth seed Juan Martin del Potro in the previous round, said courtside.
"It's the first time I've played good in Melbourne, so I am happy."
With an all-French battle between Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Richard Gasquet playing at Rod Laver Arena, France will reach their record of two players in the men's quarterfinals at Melbourne Park, last achieved in 2009.
Gilles Simon has a chance to become a third Frenchman in the quarters with a win over Briton Andy Murray later on Monday, with the victor to take on Chardy.
But the 14th seed Simon has given himself little chance of a monumental upset over Murray after struggling to recover from a five-set marathon against Gael Monfils on Saturday.