Nadal cruises in his 'best match of year'

Rafael Nadal has been slowed by a virus this year but appears to be back at full strength in a victory over Marin Cilic.

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Rafael Nadal has been slowed by a virus this year but appears to be back at full strength in a victory over Marin Cilic.

MELBOURNE, Australia — Rafael Nadal appeared to shake off poor health, rolling into the quarterfinals of the Australian Open on Monday by defeating Marin Cilic 6-2, 6-4, 6-3 to start the second week of play.

Nadal reached the last eight for the fifth straight year. It was his 25th straight victory at a major as he bids to win his fourth Grand Slam in a row.

Nadal had been plagued by a virus since the start of the year, with the top seed saying that he was not back to full fitness.

That problem seems to have been solved with the comprehensive win over No. 15 Cilic.

"I was nervous; I knew how well Marin could play," said Nadal, who said that he felt the best in weeks. "I played my best match of this year."

No. 2 Roger Federer advanced to the semifinals with a 6-1, 6-3, 6-3 win over Stanislas Wawrinka.

No. 19 Wawrinka was playing at this stage for only the second time at a major and struggled in the first all-Swiss quarterfinal at a Grand Slam.

Wawrinka received a code violation for smashing his racket into the ground, shattering the frame, after falling behind 2-0 in the third.

"I had to fight extremely hard and I thought Stan played an amazing tournament," Federer said.

Andy Murray, the fifth seed, routed No. 11 Juergen Melzer 6-3, 6-1, 6-1, dismantling the French Open semifinalist with 13 aces and 30 winners.

No. 7 David Ferrer denied Milos Raonic a historic first Canadian place in a men's Grand Slam quarterfinal with a 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 defeat of the 20-year-old.

On the women's side, Li Na beat Andrea Petkovic 6-2, 6-4 today to reach the semifinals for the second straight year.

No. 9 Li broke serve three times in the first set and twice in the second, recovering an early break in each set and playing more consistently than Petkovic.

Li lost the 2010 semifinal in two tiebreak sets to eventual champion Serena Williams.

"It's good for me — second time in a Grand Slam semifinal always in Australian Open," Li said. "Hopefully I can do better this year. I don't want to lose in semis again."

Li was the only quarterfinalist from the last Australian Open to reach the last eight this year.

She has extended her winning streak to 10 matches this year, including her title run at the tuneup tournament in Sydney, where she became the first Chinese player to win a WTA Premier singles title.

Petra Kvitova followed up a defeat of No. 5 Samantha Stosur by knocking out Flavia Pennetta 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.

Venus to miss fed cup: Venus Williams will miss next week's U.S. Fed Cup quarterfinal against Belgium because of a hip injury sustained at the Australian Open, the Associated Press reported. Williams expects to be sidelined for a few weeks. Melanie Oudin, Bethanie Mattek-Sands and doubles specialist Liezel Huber are likely members, with a replacement needed for Williams.

.Fast facts

Key results

Men: Nadal (1) d. Cilic (15) 6-2, 6-4, 6-3; Federer (2) d. Wawrinka (19) 6-1, 6-3, 6-3; Murray (5) d. Melzer (11) 6-3, 6-1, 6-1; Ferrer (7) d. Raonic 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-4

Women: Zvonareva (2) d. Benesova 6-4, 6-1; Clijsters (3) d. Makarova 7-6 (7-3), 6-2; Li (9) d. Petkovic 6-2, 6-4; Radwanska (12) d. Peng 7-5, 3-6, 7-5; Kvitova (25) d. Pennetta (22) 3-6, 6-3, 6-3

Tonight on TV: 7, ESPN2

Nadal cruises in his 'best match of year' 01/24/11 [Last modified: Monday, January 24, 2011 11:56pm]

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