Clijsters, Murray into Open`s last 16

Kim Clijsters, Andy Murray and Robin Soderling reached the Australian Open`s last 16 on Saturday.

Melbourne: Favourite Kim Clijsters subdued a
battling Alize Cornet to reach the Australian Open`s last 16
today, as Andy Murray and Robin Soderling remained in
impeccable form.

As women`s second seed Vera Zvonareva also progressed,
Clijsters was made to work by the awkward Cornet, who fought
hard on her 21st birthday but could not prevent the Belgian`s
7-6 (7/3), 6-3 win.

US Open champion Clijsters has a chance to return to
world number one, two years after her long break to have a
baby, if she wins here and top seed Caroline Wozniacki falls
before the semis.

"I know (Cornet) didn`t get the result she wanted, but
it`s not a bad place to celebrate your birthday out here on
the Rod Laver Arena," Clijsters said.

"I hope she enjoyed it.”

Both Soderling and Murray, the world number four and
five, made it into the second week without dropping a set as
they steamed towards a possible quarter-final showdown.

Murray, last year`s beaten finalist, dismissed Guillermo
Garcia-Lopez of Spain 6-1, 6-1, 6-2, as he seeks Britain`s
first Grand Slam title in 75 years.

Murray, 23, will play either 2006 finalist Marcos
Baghdatis or Jurgen Melzer in the next round and may then face
a date with in-form Swede Soderling, who cruised through 6-3,
6-1, 6-4 against Jan Hernych.

"I have played well in the first three matches and it`s
tough to concentrate in this heat. It was a lot harder than
the scoreline suggests," Murray said.

Soderling, who is receiving texts and phone calls from
Bjorn Borg, is now eyeing his fourth successive Grand Slam
quarter-final. He will next play Ukraine`s Alexandr
Dolgopolov, who beat 2008 finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

Milos Raonic, the 20-year-old Canadian with the
thunderous serve, shocked 10th seed Mikhail Youzhny to reach
the fourth round on debut, and register his first win against
a top-10 player.

Montenegro-born Raonic, whose 230 kilometres (143 miles)
screamer against Michael Llodra was the tournament`s fastest
serve, beat Russia`s Youzhny 6-4, 7-5, 4-6, 6-4. Spain`s David
Ferrer also beat Lithuanian Richard Berankis, 20.

Meanwhile, Russia`s Zvonareva, who could also finish this
tournament as world number one, survived a Lucie Safarova
fightback to stay on course for her third successive Grand
Slam final.

Zvonareva looked set for an easy win until she tightened
up and needed two match points in a tense tie-break before
going through 6-3, 7-6 (11/9) thanks to a forehand error from
the Czech.

"Today I had my chances and didn`t use them, and then we
had to go into this long second set," Zvonareva said. "That`s
something that I will definitely have to improve for the next
matches."

China`s Peng Shuai beat Japan`s Ayumi Morita to join
compatriot Li Na in the fourth round, stoking hopes they can
match Li and Zheng Jie`s run to last year`s semis. Poland`s
Agnieszka Radwanska also beat Romanian Simona Halep.

Men`s top seed Rafael Nadal will play Australian teen
Bernard Tomic later as he continues his quest for the "Rafa
Slam" which would unite all four Grand Slam titles for the
first time since 1969.

Nadal won the French Open, Wimbledon and US Open last
year after retiring hurt from his Australian Open
quarter-final against Andy Murray with a knee injury.

Bureau Report