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19 Mar, 2009 09:19

Safina lets slip a chance to be world's best

On the hard courts of the BNP Paribas Open, Vera Zvonareva became the first through to the semi-finals of the women's singles after beating Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki in straight sets.

The 4th-seed Russian lost her serve only once in the match, but broke the Danish teenager four times. And despite hitting 12 double faults, Zvonareva wrapped up a 6-4, 6-2 win.

She goes through to face Victoria Azarenka in the semis. The Belarusian booked her place with a victory over top seed Dinara Safina – a great disappointment for the Russian as it loses her the chance to become world number one in the rankings due to be published next Monday.

Another Russian, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, will challenge 7th seed Agnieszka Radwanska in the last 8 later on Thursday.

In the men's games, the last remaining Russian Igor Andreev failed to reach the final eight, falling to unseeded Ivan Ljubicic. Andreev took the opening set 6-4, before losing the following two both on tie-breaks.

Ljubicic is up against Andy Murray in the last eight. The World number four got past Tommy Robredo, when the Spaniard had to retire because of an injured right wrist in the second set. Murray improved his career-best start to a season now to 18 wins and just one defeat.

Meanwhile, world number two Roger Federer is also into the quarters. The Swiss second-seed defeated Fernando Gonzales in three sets. After taking the opener, Federer lost the second set, but pulled himself together to win the decider 6-2.

His reward is a quarter-final showdown with Spain's Fernando Verdasco, who won his fourth-round match against unseeded Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany. The Spaniard wrapped things up in three sets: 6-4, 3-6, 6-1.

Defending champion Novak Djokovic also made it safely into the last eight. The Serb defeated Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland in straight sets. Djokovic is through after edging a tie-break in each set.

And finally, number one-seed Rafael Nadal had to save five matchpoints to beat David Nalbandian.

The Argentinean took the first set 3-6, and then quickly broke Nadal in the second.

At 5-3 up Nalabandian looked to have the match in the bag, but Nadal showed his fighting qualities. He saved five matchpoints to take the set 7-6. And then the Spaniard destroyed his opponent in the third, 6-0, to set up a quarter-final meeting with Juan Martin Del Potro.