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Hingis, Clijsters set up rematch; Sharapova advances

MELBOURNE, Australia -- Martina Hingis and Kim Clijsters set
up their second straight Australian Open quarterfinal showdown with
fourth-round victories Monday, while top-seeded Maria Sharapova also advanced
with a 7-5, 6-4 win over Vera Zvonareva.

Sharapova will play fellow Russian Anna Chakvetadze, who was a 6-4,
6-1 winner over No. 8 Patty Schnyder. The 19-year-old Chakvetadze will be making
her first Grand Slam quarterfinal appearance, while Sharapova has
reached at least the quarters in 10 of her last 12 Grand Slam events.

Hingis, the Swiss star who swept the 1997-99 titles and reached
the finals the next three years before quitting the tour because of
nagging foot and ankle problems, weathered an early challenge from
China's Li Na before winning 4-6, 6-3, 6-0.

Clijsters, the Belgian player in her final season on the tour,
edged No. 15 Daniela Hantuchova 6-1, 7-5. Last year in the
quarterfinals, Clijsters ended Hingis' first run at a major after
three seasons in retirement, winning 6-3, 2-6, 6-4.

"It's always a pleasure to play her again here," Clijsters
said. "She's just a great champion. Tomorrow is a
completely different match from last year, she has beaten me
before. You always have to be ready for your opponent to play
their best tennis."

Hingis has reached the quarterfinals in her last nine trips to
Melbourne Park, two since coming back from retirement.

Sharapova had to work hard to get past No. 22
Zvonareva in an all-Russian match.

"I thought I played a lot better today than in the previous
rounds," Sharapova said. "But I will definitely have to step it
up again."

Sharapova, who played in broiling heat her first match and in
steamy conditions with the roof closed and the air conditioning
malfunctioning in her last, had a chilly night this time.

She put constant pressure on Zvonareva's serve and finally
cashed her 10th break point to pull ahead 6-5, then held serve to
finish off the first set.

Zvonareva double-faulted twice on break points in the second set
as Sharapova raced to a 5-2 lead. Sharapova faltered while serving
for the match the first time and fell behind 0-40 the second, then
double-faulted on her first match point. She finally took advantage
on her third opportunity on a forehand down the line.

The 23-year-old Clijsters was up 6-1, 3-0 when Hantuchova
rallied and got back on serve in the second. Clijsters wasted two
match points in the 10th game and had to break serve to finish off
the match in 1 hour, 19 minutes. She lost only nine games in three
previous matches.

"I played one looser game and that made her really step
up," Clijsters said. "In the second set she
was taking some more risks and was a bit more aggressive and it
worked for her. I feel like I'm seeing the ball well and moving well, but
it's hard to say how close to my best I am."

Hingis, coming off three two-set victories, was taken aback by
heavy pressure from Li's strong ground strokes in the first set.

"She came out on fire, I've never played her before, I knew it
was going to be a difficult match," Hingis said. "I knew I had to
come up with the best … and after the first set I started playing
better."

Li was dictating play with stinging shots into the corners in
the first set, and feasting on Hingis' serve, the weakest part of
her game.

Hingis looked shocked as she sat down after losing the first
set. But she pulled herself together and started mixing up her
game, drawing Li to the net with deft drop shots, then sending up
lobs that the Chinese player often whacked way long.

Hingis decided just to keep the ball in play until Li made a
mistake. And as the match wore on, Li's unforced errors piled up,
she was still going for winners but was looking increasingly
dejected.

"I played pretty well in the first set, in the second set
Martina got my rhythm quickly. In the third set I just totally
lost my rhythm," Li said.

Hingis ended up with only eight winners, but Li had 69 unforced
errors, providing the Swiss star with more than two-thirds of the
102 points that she won.

On the other side of the draw, Serena Williams became a big
threat for the women's title after defending champion Amelie
Mauresmo and No. 3 Svetlana Kuznetsova were toppled in the fourth
round Sunday.

"Yeah, I have it in me," Williams said. "I believe in my
game, and more than anything I believe in me. It doesn't matter
what people say or people write. At the end of the day, I'm my
biggest fan."

Ranked No. 81 and seemingly out of condition, Williams came into
the season's first major with only two matches in a low-key warmup.
And that followed an injury-plagued season when she played only
four events.

She had to save match points against No. 5 Nadia Petrova to make
the fourth round -- her first win over a top 10 player since she won
the Australian title in 2005 -- then beat No. 11 Jelena Jankovic
6-3, 6-2.

In the second set, Williams finished off a 17-shot rally with a
trademark crosscourt backhand to end the fourth game, pumping her
fist as Jankovic stared and gaped at the angle.

Williams will face Shahar Peer, who beat 2004 U.S. Open champion
Kuznetsova 6-4, 6-2. Peer is in the quarterfinals at a major for
the first time.

Second-seeded Mauresmo, who also won Wimbledon and spent most of
2006 at No. 1, fell 6-4, 6-3 to 70th-ranked Lucie Safarova. In six
previous majors, Safarova had only won one match.

Safarova will play fellow Czech player Nicole Vaidisova, who at
No. 10 is the highest-ranked player remaining in the bottom half of
the draw.

Information from the Associated Press and Reuters was used in this report.