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Home / Sports / Top seeds through but ex-champ Mauresmo chokes again

Top seeds through but ex-champ Mauresmo chokes again

The top women's seeds advanced to the Australian Open fourth round in contrasting styles on Friday but former champion Amelie Mauresmo was dumped from the tournament she won two years ago.

sports Updated: Jan 18, 2008 23:28 IST
Neil Sands
Neil Sands

The top women's seeds advanced to the Australian Open fourth round in contrasting styles on Friday but former champion Amelie Mauresmo was dumped from the tournament she won just two years ago.

Mauresmo became one of the highest-profile casualties so far as defending champion Serena Williams and fifth seed Maria Sharapova outgunned their opponents and world number one Justine Henin endured a tough workout.

A listless Jelena Jankovic battled through another draining three setter but the Serbian third seed managed to claw her way into the final 16, unlike the hapless Mauresmo.

She went down to hometown favourite Australian Casey Dellacqua 3-6, 6-4, 6-4, looking comfortable taking the first set before again succumbing to the jitters that have seen her labelled a Grand Slam choker in the past.

The Frenchwoman has struggled to recapture the form that won her the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the world number one spot in 2006, conceding that nerves played a part in her latest loss.

"Yeah, confidence and really not keeping in mind the aggression that I should have," she said, describing herself as "frustrated and disappointed" at her early exit from Melbourne Park.

Mauresmo, seeded 18 here after a slide down the ranking last year, committed 43 unforced errors and handed Dellacqua match point with a double fault, her 10th of the match.

Serena Williams, who took Mauresmo's Australian crown last year breezed past Victoria Azarenka of Belarus 6-3, 6-4 and warned she was yet to hit top gear.

The American seventh seed nailed her serve for the first time this tournament and blasted down 15 aces.

"I'm feeling pretty good about where I am, I'm just enjoying every moment being here," she said.

"I'm moving well. I'm not even moving my fastest, you know I can move faster when I want to."

Sharapova, Williams' opponent in last year's final, was at her competitive best downing fellow Russian Elena Vesnina 6-3, 6-0.

In no mood to tolerate any obstacles as she seeks to make amends for a humiliating loss in last year's final, Sharapova snarled "you're messing with the wrong person" as her opponent refused to buckle early in the match.

A pumped-up Sharapova went on to take the first set in 56 minutes and overpowered Vesnina in the second, muttering darkly to herself between points.

"Even though we kept breaking each other a couple times, I still felt like I had the edge in the match," she said.

Top seed Justine Henin faced her sternest test yet at this year's event against Italy's Francesca Schiavone, rising to the challenge with a hard-fought 7-5, 6-4 win.

The world number one was pushed all the way in the first set and had to pull off some stunning shots to keep 25th seed Schiavone at bay before taking control in the second.

"It was really exciting, I was glad to win in two sets," Henin said.

Jankovic, meanwhile, was grateful just to survive against Frenchwoman Virginie Razzano, eventually emerging victorious 6-2, 4-6, 6-1 after her second three-setter of the tournament.

Jankovic, renowned as one of the hardest workers in the women's game, was mystified at her listless performances this year, admitting her fitness was "not all that great" and she struggled ton focus against Razzano.

"I have no idea what it is," she said. "I should have finished in two sets but completely lost my concentration at the end of the second and got very tired.

"I was't thinking about what I had to do in order to win, my mind kind of stopped and I was tired."