Roddick to meet Safin in Australian Open

 

It was as easy as 1-2-3 for Andy Roddick to book a mouth-watering quarter-final showdown with Marat Safin at the Australian Open today.

The top seed and world number one was hardly tested by Sjeng Schalken, whose shoulders drooped and body language spelled defeat as early as the first set.

Roddick has developed a habit of pulverising his opponents this last week, with the straight-sets victory over Schalken his fourth in as many rounds.

It took Roddick just 18 minutes to run through the first set, 79 minutes to wrap up the match and in this form any of Safin's famed lapses in concentration will be ruthlessly exploited.

Despite his own electric form, Roddick still believes defending champion Andre Agassi remains the man to beat. The fourth seed today stretched his unbeaten run at the Australian Open to 25 matches with a tough victory over Thailand's Paradorn Srichaphan.

Agassi, a four-times champion, has a remarkable record at Melbourne Park and his 7-6 (7/3) 6-3 6-4 win today means he has not dropped a set since the fourth round last year - the equivalent of an entire Grand Slam.

Despite being the oldest man in the draw at 33, he remains a dangerous proposition on a surface that suits his game so well.

Meanwhile, Justine Henin-Hardenne's dramatic victory over Lindsay Davenport last year proved the catalyst for a sensational season which ended with the Belgian finishing as world number one.

And she booked a rematch with the American after both won their fourth round matches at Melbourne Park in straight sets today.

Henin-Hardenne was given a stern test by Santangelo who had already accounted for Spanish 16th seed Magui Serna in the first round and Eleni Daniilidou (19) in the third.

Santangelo was a break up and serving for the second set before Henin-Hardenne broke back and survived the tie-break to book an enticing rematch with Davenport.

The American kept her half of the bargain with a comfortable 6-1 6-3 victory over 19-year-old Russian Vera Zvonareva. Davenport only had to save two break point opportunities in the match and with efficient ease - she made only nine unforced errors - reached her seventh Australian Open quarter-final.