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Djokovic survives Australian Open scare as Safina fires warning

Friday, January 23, 2009 , Posted by Linda at 11:17 AM

MELBOURNE – Defending champion Novak Djokovic survived a scare to book a place in the Australian Open fourth round as Dinara Safina fired a warning with a convincing rout.

Djokovic survives Australian Open scare as Safina fires warning Novak Djokovic of Serbia attempts to return the ball to Amer Delic of the US during their match

World number three Djokovic was made to work by American Amer Delic on a hot day before running out a 6-2, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7/4) winner.

It was a less than convincing display by the Serb who struggled to cope with Delic's big serve.

"He has one of the biggest serves out there, it was difficult for me to return and find rhythm," he said.

"I have big respect for Amer, we have known each other a long time and he absolutely deserved to be here. He played great tennis today."

While Djokovic went through Spain's David Ferrer, the 11th seed who was beaten by Djokovic in the quarter-finals last year, crashed out to Croatia's Marin Cilic 7-6 (7/5), 6-3, 6-4.

Cilic will now meet dangerous Argentine eighth seed Juan Martin del Potro who came from a set down to beat Luxembourg's Gilles Muller 6-7 (5/7), 7-5, 6-3, 7-5.

In a match lasting almost three-and-a-half hours, del Potro weathered some brilliant serving from Muller to reach the fourth round of a Grand Slam for the first time, surpassing his third-round effort at the US Open in 2006.

"It was a really tough match for me, and for Gilles also," said the Argentine.

"I had a slow start but at the end of the first set I started to play better and that was the key to victory."

Roger Federer is on court later Friday in a blockbuster evening match against Russia's Marat Safin, the man who beat the Swiss in the semi-finals en route to the title in 2005.

Safin's sister Safina is running into form as the tournament progresses and whipped Kaia Kanepi of Estonia 6-2, 6-2 as she stayed on track to meet Serbia's Ana Ivanovic in the quarter-finals.

The third seed came into the tournament after a breakthrough 2008 in which she snared four titles plus Olympic silver, and made good on her stated intention of playing a more aggressive game this year.

"Finally I played my game. Compared to my first two matches, I reached my level," said Safina, 22, who has bulked up this season using her muscular power to overwhelm opponents.

"From now on I have to play like this or even better every day because it will be tougher and tougher coming up, but I'm really happy that I won in two sets.

"If I use my power, then I have to run less. It's time to use it sometimes."

Also into the fourth round is Russia's Vera Zvonareva, with the seventh seed playing scintilating tennis.

After a rare 'double bagel' rout of Edina Gallovits in the second round, she continued her impressive advance with a 6-4, 6-1 victory over Italy's Sara Errani.

Tenth seeded Russian Nadia Petrova also went through after Kazakhstan's Galina Voskoboeva retired with back pain after losing the first set 6-1.

World number one and top seed Jelena Jankovic takes on Japanese veteran Ai Sugiyama later Friday, with her quest for a maiden Grand Slam title made easier now that one of the Williams sisters, Venus, is out.

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