Soderling, Zvonareva into Australian Open 4th round
Melbourne: Sweden`s Robin Soderling reached the fourth round at the Australian Open for the first time with a straight-sets victory over Jan Hernych of the Czech Republic.
Fourth seed Soderling, a two-time French Open finalist, was always in control of his match on Hisense Arena on Saturday, winning 6-3, 6-1, 6-4 over the 241st-ranked Hernych in just under two hours.
Soderling has a poor record at the Australian Open after only winning two matches in five previous visits, but victories this year have put him into the last 16 where he could face 2008 finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
The Swede was strong from the baseline, hitting 14 forehand winners among his total of 33 winners and broke Hernych`s serve a total of six times, three in succession in the second set.
Soderling has reached the quarter-finals or better at every Grand Slam event except the Australian Open.
He finished runner-up at Roland Garros in 2009 to Roger Federer and reached last year`s French Open final where he went down to Rafael Nadal.
Soderling extended his current unbeaten run this season to 8-0 after preparing for the Open by winning the lead-up Brisbane International for his first title in Australia.
He also reclaimed the world number four ranking from Andy Murray following his Brisbane success. It was Hernych`s first time in the third round of a Grand Slam in his 19th major.
On women`s side, second-seeded Russian Vera Zvonareva held off a stirring comeback from Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic to win 6-3, 7-6 (11/9) and reach the fourth round.
The no-nonsense Zvonareva broke former doubles partner Safarova once in the first set and looked as though she would cruise to victory when she broke again at the start of the second.
However, Zvonareva seemed to tighten up as victory neared and she lost her serve three times in a row as Safarova recovered to send the set into a tiebreak.
Both players were swinging freely and scrambling for every point as the high quality tiebreak swung back and forth.
Safarova had two set points and Zvonareva two match points before a Safarova forehand sailed long, giving the Russian victory in exactly two hours.
Zvonareva, who has a chance to be world number one at the end tournament if results fall her way, has progressed through the Australian Open with little fanfare as most of the attention has fallen on higher profile players.
She looked in top form early against Safarova, who tried hard but never looked like causing an upset until Zvonareva succumbed to the pressure towards the end.
Zvonareva has now made the fourth round in Melbourne for the second year in a row.
She now plays either fellow Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova or Iveta Benesova in the round of 16.