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Australian Open 2014 Day 8: Sharapova out but Federer sublime

Maria Sharapova at the 2014 Australian Open
by Alexandra Willis at Melbourne Park
Monday 20 January 2014

Wimbledon.com's highlights from the eighth day of play at the 2014 Australian Open at Melbourne

The upsets

Dominika Cibulkova (20) d. Maria Sharapova (3) 3-6, 6-4, 6-1

She may be little but Dominika Cibulkova packs quite a punch, as Maria Sharapova found to her cost first up on Rod Laver Arena. With Sharapova clearly struggling from the after-effects of three matches back after a long break, Cibulkova whirled around the court and didn’t shirk from the opportunity, winning in three to complete her set of Grand Slam quarter-finals.

"This is what I'm really, really happy for, you know, finally, finally I made it," Cibulkova said. "I went on the court and I was more than 100% sure that I really can beat her."

Simona Halep (11) d. Jelena Jankovic (8) 6-4, 2-6, 6-0
Perhaps not an upset in person, but certainly one on paper, the Romanian proved once again that she has going only one way in this game, up. Having dropped the second set amidst a sterling Jankovic fightback, there was a danger that Halep’s inferior experience would tell. Instead, she relaxed, hit through, and came up with a bagel. She doesn't even have a coach. 

"No pressure because I have just to enjoy the quater-finals," Halep said. "Is first time in my life. I have just to be happy on court and to try my best, to move well and to be relaxed."

Big win

Victoria Azarenka.
Aside from a little scuffle in the first set, the rematch between Azarenka and Sloane Stephens was extremely straightforward from Azarenka’s point of view, the defending champion so relentless from the back of the court that she just never looked like losing. There is no love lost between the two, it is clear, and when Sloane directed a ball rather close to Azarenka’s head, it came back straight at her. But that was a minor incident in a match that was all about the older and wiser. Azarenka advances to the quarters, and, as the last remaining former champion in the draw, is looking in very good nick. She is the only remaining woman to have not dropped a set, too, beating Stephens 6-3, 6-2 in an hour and 31 minutes.

"I'm happy with the way I played. I think we were very competitive today," Azarenka said. "You have to stay alert. It doesn't matter the level that you're No.2 or whatever. Everybody has proven that anybody can beat anybody. I have to be ready 100% for every player."

Rafael Nadal
You have to pity Kei Nishikori. He threw the contents of his kitchen at Rafael Nadal, and still he couldn’t beat him. But he did push Nadal the hardest of anyone yet, the world No.1 winning 7-6(3), 7-5, 7-6(3) and admitting that Nishikori had made life very tough for him.

Andy Murray
He may have dropped his first set of the tournament somewhat unnecessarily and needed six match points to get through, but in beating Stephane Robert in four sets, Murray advanced to his 12th straight Grand Slam quarter-final, 18th in total. Not too shabby at all.

Quick wins
Roger Federer blitzed past Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in three sets, 6-3, 7-5, 6-3, and Agnieszka Radwanska downed Garbine Muguruza 6-1, 6-3.

Following up
Grigor Dimitrov followed up reaching his first Grand Slam fourth round by reaching his first Grand Slam quarter-final. Beating Roberto Bautista Agut 6-3, 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 in two hours and 24 minutes, the Bulgarian seems finally comfortable in his own skin, playing as beautifully as he has always been capable of, but, more tellingly, not panicking when things went against him, but calmly switching to plan B.

Never seen that before
Deep into the second set of their fourth round, Kei Nishikori wrong-footed Rafael Nadal to the extent that he fell over. And broke his shoelace. He didn't know the word shoelace before today. 

Happy reunion
It seems to be going very well for Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic, reunited on the doubles court after two years apart. The eighth seeds bumped out Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski, the ninth seeds, to reach the doubles quarter-finals.

There was quite the upset though as Lukasz Kubot and Robert Lindstedt, seeded 14th, downed Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo, the fourth seeds, in three sets.

Goodbye Hisense
At this stage of the tournament, the Australian Open’s second court bids farewell to players and spectators for another year. It isn’t needed any more.

First to 4?
There was a little confusion in the media centre, scrolling down the completed matches pages, and finding all sorts of sets ending in 4. It was, in fact, the Asia-Pacific Tennis League, Australia's equivalent of World Team Tennis. With all sorts of club teams playing each other, there are too many brilliant names to pick from. The Midland Mad Dogs were my favourite.

Bagels
5

Tweet of the day

There is no chance Cibulkova is 5'3 not even on a small stack of books stood by her many time @ChrissieEvert will tell 5'1 tops
Brad Gilbert becomes a height expert

Quote of the day
SIMONA HALEP
:  "I will have a coach after this tournament. I wait to learn more."
Mysterious.  

Stat of the day
12
Consecutive Grand Slam quarter-finals reached by Andy Murray, equalling Bjorn Borg. Roger Federer meanwhile reached his 11th straight Australian Open quarter-final.

Video of the day

Maria Sharapova produces one of her strangest press conference moments...

What to watch on Tuesday

ROD LAVER ARENA
Women’s singles quarter-finals
11am – Li Na (4) v Flavia Pennetta (28)
FB – Ana Ivanovic (14) v Eugenie Bouchard (30)

Men’s singles quarter-finals
NB 2.30pm – Tomas Berdych (7) v David Ferrer (3)
7pm – Stanislas Wawrinka (8) v Novak Djokovic (2)

Men’s doubles quarter-finals
FB – Alex Bolt & Andrew Whittington (WC) v Daniel Nestor & Nenad Zimonjic (8)

MARGARET COURT ARENA

Women’s doubles quarter-finals
NB 1pm – Andrea Hlavackova & Lucie Safarova (7) v Ekaterina Makarova & Elena Vesnina (3)
FB – Sara Errani & Roberta Vinci (1) v Cara Black & Sania Mirza (6)
NB 5pm – Kveta Peschke & Katerina Srebotnik (4) v Jarmila Gajdosova & Alja Tomljanovic 

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



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