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Murray reaches quarters

Andy Murray plays a forehand during his 7-6 (7-4), 6-3, 6-2 victory against American John Isner.

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Andy Murray plays a forehand during his 7-6 (7-4), 6-3, 6-2 victory against American John Isner.

MELBOURNE, Australia — Andy Murray overcame big-serving John Isner 7-6 (7-4), 6-3, 6-2 today to set up a possible quarterfinal against defending champion Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open.

The 22-year-old Scot rated Isner's serve among the best in the game, so he was delighted to wear down the 6-foot-7 American after a service break in the eighth game of the second set. He fended off break points in the next game to serve out the set.

"It was tough. I had my coach serving at me from the service line to try to get used to it," Murray said of Isner's serve. "But once you get out there, it's kind of tricky."

Murray, who has yet to lose a set, faces Nadal or Ivo Karlovic, who met in a late match.

The loss was Isner's first of the year, which started with his first career ATP title at a warmup in Auckland.

Meanwhile, Zheng Jie set another national mark by becoming the first Chinese player to reach the Australian Open quarterfinals, beating Alona Bondarenko 7-6 (8-6), 6-4.

Zheng, 26, already had matched her own previous best run at Melbourne Park by reaching the fourth round but is still a win away from equaling her best performance at a Grand Slam.

She made a charge to the Wimbledon semifinals in 2008. She became only the second wild card to reach the semis at a major, ousting then No. 1 Ana Ivanovic along the way.

Bondarenka had been on an eight-match win streak after a title run at Hobart last week, which included a quarterfinal win over Zheng.

Also into the women's quarterfinals is Nadia Petrova. The Russian, coming off a 6-0, 6-1 win over U.S. Open champ Kim Clijsters, upset No. 3-ranked Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-3, 3-6, 6-1. Kuznetsova, last year's French Open champ, was broken three times in the third.

Finally, a much-anticipated rematch fizzled when Marcos Baghdatis withdrew from his third-round match with Lleyton Hewitt because of shoulder pain.

Fans hoping for a replay of their epic five-setter from the 2008 Australian Open — the match lasted 4 hours, 45 minutes and finished at 4:34 a.m. — saw 54 minutes of tennis before the Cypriot retired trailing 6-0, 4-2.

Baghdatis was coming off a five-set win two nights earlier.

"I couldn't hit the forehand. I couldn't control the ball," he said. "I didn't think that it would be this painful and this bothering."

Hewitt has called the showdown two years ago the most memorable match of his career and had been looking forward to facing Baghdatis, who beat him last week in the Sydney International quarterfinals.

Now he gets No. 1 Roger Federer.

"You play for those moments, to play against the best players, and Roger is that," Hewitt said. "This is what motivates you."

Fast facts

Today on TV

8 a.m. Tennis, 7 p.m. ESPN2

Murray reaches quarters 01/23/10 [Last modified: Sunday, January 24, 2010 12:17am]
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