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October 9, 2009

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Home » Sports » Tennis

Serena out but Nadal advances

SERENA Williams was knocked out in the third round of the US$6.6 million China Open by Nadia Petrova last night, leaving the WTA's new "crown jewel" event without a top-three seed in the quarterfinals.

The American, who will retake the No. 1 spot next week, lost 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (5) in a hard-fought contest against the Russian 13th seed to join her third-seeded sister Venus and top seed Dinara Safina in exiting the tournament.

Men's top seed Rafael Nadal was delighted with his form and fitness after negotiating a tricky second-round tie against American James Blake to reach the last eight.

Nadal, playing his first tournament since picking up an abdominal injury at the US Open, was not at his rampaging best but certainly proved his fitness by outlasting Blake 7-5, 6-7 (4), 6-3.

"I felt I played really well all the match, one of my best matches since the injury to the knee," said the Spaniard, who missed his Wimbledon title defense because of tendinitis of both knees. "He's a very good player, I think he has one of the best returns of any player I have played."

Blake, ranked 24th after missing part of the season through injury, hit the ball low and hard throughout the match but errors on key points allowed Nadal to tie up their career head-to-head at 3-3.

The New Yorker refused to back down throughout the contest and saved a match point before winning the second set in a tiebreak, only to hand the world No. 2 a 5-3 lead with a double fault in the decider.

"Winning in three sets always gives you confidence but today what really gives me confidence is how I played," said Nadal, who will meet Russian Marat Safin for a place in the semifinals.

Former world No. 1 Safin, who plans to retire at the end of the season, proved there was still life in his injury-wracked body with a 6-3, 6-4 win over seventh seed Fernando Gonzalez.

Do too much

"He served unbelievable and didn't let me do too much, one break point in the whole match," said Chilean Gonzalez, champion in Beijing two years ago.

Ivan Ljubicic of Croatia also advanced to the quarterfinals, beating Lukasz Kubot of Poland 7-6 (6), 4-6, 6-4.

In the women's draw, the third round proved a step too far for China's world No. 226 Zhang Shuai - the lowest ranked player to beat a world No. 1 when she upset Safina in the second round.

The wildcard went down 1-6, 4-6 to France's Marion Bartoli, who will next play Vera Zvonareva after the Russian seventh seed outlasted 10th-seeded Italian Flavia Pennetta 6-3, 5-7, 7-5.


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