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Federer, Djokovic cruise into last eight

Pavlyuchenkova ousts Zvonareva; Sania-Vesnina duo in quarterfinals

— PHOTO: AFP

GIANT-KILLER: Russia's Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova shocked third-seeded compatriot Vera Zvonareva in the fourth round on Sunday.

PARIS: Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer closed in on a French Open semifinal showdown on Sunday while hobbling Italian Fabio Fognini struck a colourful Grand Slam blow for the tennis underclass.

Second-seeded Djokovic took his winning run to 43 matches as he brushed aside France's Richard Gasquet 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 to set up a last eight clash with Fognini.

Federer, the 2009 champion and third seed, reached a record 28th successive Grand Slam quarterfinal with a 6-3, 6-2, 7-5 win over best friend Stanislas Wawrinka.

Fognini's distinction

Not to be outdone, unheralded Fognini, the World No. 49, became the first Italian man to reach the quarterfinals in 16 years by defeating Spain's Albert Montanes 4-6, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 11-9 win in a four hour 22 minute marathon.

Fognini saved five match points and needed a medical time-out for a left thigh injury which may yet rule him out of his first Grand Slam quarterfinal.

Unstoppable Djokovic is now just three wins short of matching Guillermo Vilas's record of 46 consecutive wins and one shy of John McEnroe's mark of 42 for an unbeaten start to a season set in 1984.

The red-hot Serb breezed to his fifth career win in six meetings against the 13th-seeded Gasquet.

“I'm happy with my game. I played a great match against a great player, but I got important breaks and made no mistakes after that,” said Djokovic.

“I'm playing the best tennis of my life at the moment. But it's important to just focus on each match and see how far I can go.”

Third seed Federer has reached the last eight without dropping a set as he continues to thrive at a Roland Garros tournament where the world's top two, Rafael Nadal and Djokovic, are expected to reach the final.

“Twenty-eight quarterfinals in a row, that's great, but that's another opportunity for me to go one step further,” said Federer.

“That's why I'm very proud I accomplished that, and I hope I can go one step further than last year, and then we'll see.”

In the women's section, Russian teen Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova sent third seed Vera Zvonareva crashing out of the Open to further throw the tournament wide open.

With the two top seeds, Caroline Wozniacki and Kim Clijsters already out, Zvonareva's departure after a 7-6(4), 2-6, 6-2 loss means that fourth seed Victoria Azarenka of Belarus is the top-ranking player left in the draw.

For 19-year-old Pavlyuchenkova, the win represents a major breakthrough as it will be a first appearance in a Grand Slam quarterfinal.

Pavlyuchenkova, the youngest player left in the draw, got off to the perfect start with a break of serve and led 2-0 before her more seasoned compatriot ran off four games in a row.

Zvonareva served for the set at 5-3 but was broken as the 2006 world junior champion forced a tie-break.

The younger and taller of the two Russians took early control of that with some big-hitting groundstrokes from the baseline giving her a 3-0 lead and she held on to that advantage to pocket the first set in 57 minutes.

That was the cue for Zvonareva to enjoy her best spell of the match in which she won four games in a row to dominate the second set.

Meanwhile, Sania Mirza reached her first ever French Open women's doubles quarterfinals with partner Elena Vesnina but Mahesh Bhupathi's campaign ended after suffering a second round defeat in the mixed doubles along with Jie Zheng.

Seventh seed Sania and Elena quelled a late challenge from 11th seed Spanish duo of Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez and Anabel Medina Garrigues 6-1, 6-4 in the third round. The Indo-Russian pair now faces top seed Gisela Dulko of Argentina and Flavia Pennetta of Italy.

Bhupathi exits

Earlier, Bhupathi's campaign ended when he and Chinese Zheng lost 6-4, 3-6, 7-10 to the unseeded duo of Rennae Stubbs of Australia and Brazil's Marcelo Melo. — Agencies

THE RESULTS

Men's singles: Fourth round: 2-Novak Djokovic (Srb) bt 13-Richard Gasquet (Fra) 6-4, 6-4, 6-2.

3-Roger Federer (Sui) bt 14-Stanislas Wawrinka (Sui) 6-3, 6-2, 7-5; Fabio Fognini (Ita) bt Albert Montanes (Esp) 4-6, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 11-9.

Women singles: Fourth round: 11-Marion Bartoli (Fra) bt Gisela Dulko (Arg) 7-5, 1-0 ( retd.); 5-Francesca Schiavone (Ita) bt 10-Jelena Jankovic (Srb) 6-3, 2-6, 6-4.

14-Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (Rus) bt 3-Vera Zvonareva (Rus) 7-6(4), 2-6, 6-2.

Women's doubles: Third round: Sania Mirza (Ind) & Elena Vesnina (Rus) bt Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez & Anabel Medina Garrigues (Esp) 6-1, 6-4.

Mixed doubles: Second round: 5-Mahesh Bhupathi (Ind) & Jie Zheng (Chn) lost to Rennae Stubbs (Aus) & Marcelo Melo (Bra) 6-4, 3-6, 7-10 .

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