“Built Belgian tough” might become a badge of honour for future tennis generations after courageous Kim Clijsters’ win over Li Na on Sunday, while Roger Federer dashed the dreams of home fans by crushing Bernard Tomic.
On a day when the temperature soared, Rafa Nadal won a battle of Spanish lefties against Davis Cup teammate Feliciano Lopez, and Tomas Berdych was booed mercilessly for a petulant show of bad sportsmanship.Defending champion Clijsters crumpled to the court at 3-3 in the first set after her left ankle rolled sickeningly over. Bidding farewell to the Australian Open in the final year of her career, the Belgian had her ankle strapped and Li took advantage to win the first set.
The 28-year-old Belgian clawed her way back to win the second set in a tiebreak as the crowd began to believe she could pull off the win. Clijsters closed out the match 4-6, 7-6, 6-4 to keep her hopes alive of a fifth grand slam title.
However, she conceded the injury had made her think about quitting against Li, whom she beat in the 2011 final.
"It definitely crossed my mind at some point, but I knew if I could just try to let the medication sink in ... the pain would go away a little bit and maybe with the adrenaline I could just fly through it," she said.
Clijsters was joined in the quarterfinals by number three seed Victoria Azarenka who Iveta Benesova 6-2, 6-2. World No.1 Caroline Wozniacki endured a nervy second set against Jelena Jankovic before clinching a 6-0, 7-5 win.
Teen Tomic had already come through two five-setters to reach the fourth round while 30-year-old Federer looked as fresh as a daisy in securing a 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 win.
World No.2 Nadal huffed and puffed his way past Lopez with a 6-4 6-4 6-2 win.
In the day's only real note of controversy, Czech Berdych was booed off Hisense Arena after a bad tempered 4-6, 7-6, 7-6, 7-6 win over Nicolas Almagro.
Berdych refused to shake hands with the Spaniard after he sealed the win because he felt the 10th-seeded Almagro had deliberately blasted a return at his head during the fourth set.