Serena faces next generation, Murray takes on Chardy

MELBOURNE – Serena Williams comes face to face with the next generation of U.S. tennis when she takes on 19-year-old Sloane Stephens in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open on Wednesday.

Stephens secured her maiden appearance in a grand slam quarter-final with a composed three-set win over Serbia’s Bojana Jovanovski and further impressed with her wise-cracking performance in an on-court interview after the match.

Joking about her nervous relatives and the A$250,000 ($262,600) prize money, Stephens also told the crowd at Hisense Arena that Williams had told her to grunt “louder”, a reference to the 15-times grand slam champion’s sometimes ear-splitting shrieks during play.

Much has been made of Williams’s reported role as mentor to the 29th seed but the off-the-cuff comment continued a bit of banter from the teenager at the world number three’s expense, carrying on from their heated match at the Brisbane International earlier this month.

Eventual champion Williams won the match in two sets but Stephens took the fight to the 31-year-old and was irked by her fist-pumping exhortations after winning big points.

Stephens told her coach that Williams was being ‘disrespectful’ during a change of ends, but later played down the comment as a joke.

With a sixth title at Melbourne Park on the line, Williams has backed away from the mentor role, saying she felt no responsibility toward Stephens.

“It’s hard to be a real mentor when you’re still in competition,” said Williams, who strolled into their clash with a 6-2 6-0 thrashing of 14th seed Maria Kirilenko.

BRILLIANT RUN

The pair will meet in the second match on Rod Laver Arena before Andy Murray takes on France’s 36th-ranked Jeremy Chardy.

Chardy has enjoyed a brilliant run to his maiden grand slam quarter-final, overcoming sixth seed Juan Martin del Potro and 21st-seeded Andreas Seppi, and says he has the confidence to beat “everyone”, including third seed Murray.

“He’s a lot more calm on the court and he deals with emotion a lot better,” former France Davis Cup captain Guy Forget told Reuters of Chardy. “Once he was too aggressive and emotional, but now he’s choosing his shots a lot better.”

Chardy also beat the 25-year-old Scot at the Cincinnati Masters in their last match and is certain to offer him more competition than 14th seed Gilles Simon, who could hardly run in their three-set match, having exhausted himself in a near-five hour marathon in the previous round.

The winner will book a semi-final against either Roger Federer or seventh seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who play in the evening session at Rod Laver Arena.

Federer destroyed the Frenchman in three sets the last time they played at Melbourne Park in the 2010 semi-finals, but Tsonga avenged the defeat the following year at Wimbledon, when he stunned the 17-times grand slam champion in the quarter-finals.

It has all been one-way traffic since, however, with Federer winning their past four encounters, leaving aside a walkover at the 2012 tournament in Doha when the Swiss pulled out injured.

Belarusian Victoria Azarenka, needing to defend her title successfully to preserve her world number one ranking, kicks off the action against twice grand slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia.

($1 = 0.9519 Australian dollars)

(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by John O’Brien)

Read more :
  • Jo-Wilfried Tsonga happy with World Tour draw
    Number seven seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has revealed that he is happy with his draw for the ATP World Tours Finals next week. The Frenchman has been drawn alongside former world number ones R...
  • Jordan stun Japan to check World Cup progress
    Goalkeeper Amer Sabbah pulled off a heroic late penalty stop on Tuesday as Jordan stunned Japan 2-1 to reignite their World Cup hopes and foil the Asian champions' hopes of booking an early...
  • Rafael Nadal to snatch top spot back
    Rafael Nadal has set his sights on reclaiming the number one spot in the world tennis rankings next year. The Spaniard has relinquished the accolade to Serbian pro Novak Djokovic, who won ...
  • Falcons’ Gonzalez bows out with sadness but no regrets
    ATLANTA - Tony Gonzalez's dream of ending his career with a Super Bowl vanished as the tight end's Atlanta Falcons fell victim to a record comeback by the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Cha...
  • 2014 World Cup Qualifying: England held by dogged Montenegro
    Montenegro produced a rousing second-half display to earn a 1-1 draw at home to England on Tuesday that enabled them to preserve a two-point lead in their World Cup qualifying group. Wayne...
  • Sports Mole’s WAG of the week: Jelena Ristic
    Age: 24 Occupation: Finance WAG of: Novak Djokovic, world number one WAG since: 2006 There are very few accolades within the world of tennis that Novak Djokovic hasn't won. The Serbian ...
  • Jo-Wilfried Tsonga slams Miami umpire
    Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has accused an umpire of favouring Rafael Nadal during the pair's Sony Ericsson quarter-final in Miami. The Frenchman was defeated by Nadal in three sets but he believes...
  • Minoza joins ICTSI Rancho title hunt
    Frankie Minoza gets to see action again on the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour as he joins the three-leg southern swing of the circuit beginning with the ICTSI Rancho Palos Verdes Classic on Wed...