Kim Clijsters' road back from retirement had been as smooth as can be before Nadia Petrova stepped on to Rod Laver Arena on Thursday. The Russian absolutely thwarted Clijsters, 6-1, 6-0, in just 53 minutes. The Belgian hit just 5 winners compared to 26 errors, and summed up her disaster quite simply to the press: "It sucked". Justine Henin was lucky enough to survive her match, in which she was down a set and a break to 27th seeded Alisa Kleybanova before springing off 5 of the next 6 games to force the match into a deciding 3rd set, which Henin won 6-2. In her next match, the 27 year-old will be playing her 1 compatriot left, 16th ranked, yet unseeded, Yanina Wickmayer, who fought through cramps and a tough Sara Errani to advance and get a crack at her countrywoman.
In an electrifying late night 4-setter, John Isner overwhelmed Gael Monfils, the 13th seed, with huge serves and commanding forehands to pull off a huge upset in what was 1 of the young Americans biggest wins to date. Isner will next take on Andy Murray, who has yet to lose a set on his way to the 4th round, most recently dispatching Florent Serra 7-5, 6-1, 6-4. After dropping the 1st set, Marin Cilic rebounded to win the next 3 sets and defeat Stanislas Wawrinka, the 19th seed, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-3. The 6'6 Cilic will fight for a spot in the quarterfinals against fellow giant and number 4 seed Juan Martin del Potro, who again looked very unsettled in a 4-set win over Florian Mayer, in which the Argentine was bageled in the 2nd set.
The 2nd and 3rd seeds, Dinara Safina and Svetlana Kuznetsova, have both been extremely under-the-radar in their paths to the round of 16. Safina has looked dominant, as she stormed past Elena Baltacha 6-1, 6-2, while Kuznetsova was up-and-down in her 3 set win over Angelique Kerber. Despite her impressive play, Dinara was asked about her cooking in the press conference, where she responded "I’m just starting, you know. Until now nobody got sick, so this is the positive (smiling.) They might like, not like, but if they have problems with the stomach, it’s not good. But until now, nobody would complain about the stomach (laughter)" Safina's road to the semifinals got a lot easier when Alona Bondarenko upset Jelena Jankovic 6-2, 6-3. Jankovic hit 13 winners compared to 40 errors, while Bondarenko had a difference of just -3. Zheng Jie ousted 11th seeded Marion Bartoli, while Maria Kirilenko kept her run alive, beating Roberta Vinci 7-5, 7-6 (4).
In the remaining men's matches, Rafael Nadal worked past the intrepid Phillip Kohlschreiber in 4 sets to set up a round of 16 match with Ivo Karlovic, also a 4-set victor. Andy Roddick and Fernando Gonzalez with also meet in a sure-to-be exciting 4th rounder, as they were pushed to 4 and 5 sets respectively in their Thursday matches.
Things are shaping up pretty well and the tennis has been nothing shy of indulging.