© Getty Images
14th-seeded Russian Mikhail Youzhny (pictured) defeated Davis Cup teammate and fourth seed Nicolay Davydenko 7-6((2), 6-3, 6-1 on Sunday in Melbourne to reach his career-first Australian Open quarterfinal.
In just the seventh all-Russian match-up in Grand Slam history, Youzhny hit 23 winners to 30 unforced errors, served six aces and converted seven of nine break points to seal his first victory in four meetings over World No. 4 Davydenko in two hours and 25 minutes.
World No. 14 Youzhny began the year by claiming the Chennai title (d. Nadal) and is, as yet, unbeaten in 2008 on a nine match-winning streak. He is the only player left in the draw to have won a pre-Australian Open title.
The 25-year-old now will contest his second Grand Slam quarterfinal, his first coming at the 2006 US Open where he defeated World No. 2 Rafael Nadal before falling to Andy Roddick in four sets in the semifinals.
The Moscow native, who finished the Australian Open boys’ singles runner-up in 1999, now improves to 6-23 against Top 5 players in the South African Airways ATP Rankings. Last season saw the right-hander break into the Top 10 for the first time (August) and finish the year ranked inside the Top 20 for the first time since 2004. He won a career-high 50 matches, and claimed the Rotterdam title (d. Ljubicic).
Davydenko had progressed to the fourth round without the loss of a set, and was looking to reach his fourth straight Australian Open quarterfinal. The loss to his compatriot Youzhny snaps an 11 match-winning streak against Russians.
Last season Davydenko won one title in Moscow (d. Mathieu) and had a career-best Grand Slam year, reaching the semifinals at Roland Garros (l. to Federer) and the US Open (l. to Federer).
Youzhny now advances to face unseeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarterfinals after he defeated Richard Gasquet in an all-French encounter earlier.
Sunday: Nieminen is First into QFs; Ferrero Rocks Nalbandian
Looking ahead to the encounter, Youzhny said: "He has improved a lot. Last year he played very well in Bercy.. He was in fourth round or third round. And here he played really well. He beat good, very good players. You know, first round he beat Murray. Today he beat Gasquet. He played very well, what I saw by TV. I have to go onto court and try to show hundred percent what I can do from my game. And after we'll see if it will be enough to beat Tsonga, as well."
Watch live matches, highlights, interviews and features at AOTV
Australian Open Preview | Tournament Profile: Australian Open
Elsewhere, second-seeded Spaniard Rafael Nadal (pictured right) advanced to the quarterfinals for the second successive year as 23rd-seeded Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu was forced to retire when trailing 6-4, 3-0 on Sunday evening.
World No. 25 Mathieu had treatment on his left calf throughout the first set, but decided he couldn’t carry on midway through the second set. The Frenchman faced a barrage of Nadal attacking play, including 14 winners and 90% of first serves in.
Nadal reached the quarterfinals last year, before losing to eventual finalist Fernando Gonzalez. Mathieu is the third successive Frenchman that the Spaniard has defeated en route to the last eight.
The 21-year-old Nadal now meets Jarkko Nieminen making it the first time since 2002 that two left-handers have reached the Australian Open quarterfinals. Nadal has beaten Nieminen in all three of their previous encounters.
Saturday: Hewitt Beats Baghdatis in Midnight Madness
Saturday: Federer Taken to 10-8 in the Fifth by Tipsarevic
Saturday: Blake Rallies From Two Sets Down
Friday: Davydenko, Youzhny to Clash; Tsonga Continues Charge
Thursday: Gonzalez, Nalbandian, Blake March into Third Round
Thursday: Federer Ends Santoro's Melbourne Spell
Wednesday: Davydenko, Gasquet Safely into Third Round
Wednesday: Nadal Eases into Third Round; Robredo Upset
Tuesday: Federer, Gonzalez, Blake Begin Melbourne Campaigns
Tuesday: Djokovic, Hewitt Make Impressive Starts; Ljubicic Upset
Monday: Nadal, Davydenko, Gasquet Safely into 2nd RD
Monday: Roddick Eases into Second Round; Murray Upset