Venus advances to quarter-final

Venus Williams advanced to the Australian Open quarter-finals for the seventh time to set up a meeting with China’s Li Na, who has never made it this far at the tournament.

Venus Williams of the United States returns the ball to  Francesca Schiavone of Italy during their Women's singles fourth round match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne

Venus Williams of the United States returns the ball to Francesca Schiavone of Italy during their Women's singles fourth round match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne

MELBOURNE, Australia — Venus Williams advanced to the Australian Open quarter-finals for the seventh time to set up a meeting with China’s Li Na, who has never made it this far at the tournament.

The sixth-seeded Williams beat Francesca Schiavone 3-6, 6-2, 6-1 on Monday, recovering after dropping a set to the Italian for the first time since 2003.

Li upset No. 4-seed Caroline Wozniacki, the U.S. Open finalist, 6-3, 6-2 in a 98-minute match featuring 12 service breaks. Li held when it counted, saving three break points in an 11-minute opening game.

Along with 2008 Wimbledon semifinalist Zheng Jie, who is on the other half of the draw at Melbourne Park, it’s the first time two Chinese players have reached the quarter-finals at the same Grand Slam tournament.

Williams reached the final of the Australian Open in ’03, losing to her younger sister Serena, in her best run at the season’s first major.

The Williams are on track to meet in the semifinals here, with defending champion and No. 1-ranked Serena playing in a fourth-round match later today against Australia’s Sam Stosur.

Venus struggled to hold serve in the first set against Schiavone but was in command by the end, when she won the last six games after the 29-year-old broke her to open the third set.

“Francesca was playing so well, she was so tenacious, she has so much speed,” Williams said. “I had a little bit of a slow start.”

Williams’ win extended a streak in which at least one American woman has reached the Australian Open quarter-finals every year since 1977.

Four days after an angry outburst over the rules relating to replays and line calls, Andy Roddick got a crucial call in his favour in a fourth-round win over Fernando Gonzalez on Sunday.

Roddick held off the 2007 Australian Open finalist 6-3, 3-6, 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 to reach the quarters for the sixth time in eight years. He’ll meet No. 14 Marin Cilic of Croatia, who ousted U.S. Open champion Juan Martin del Potro in five sets.

Roddick bucked the trend on a day of upsets that also resulted in fourth-round exits for two of the top women: No. 2 Dinara Safina, last year’s runner-up, and No. 3 Svetlana Kuznetsova, the reigning French Open champion.

“I got a little lucky, but sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good,” he said.

After wasting four set points in the 10th game of the fourth set, seventh-seeded Roddick rallied from 40-0 down in the 12th — Gonzalez’ next service game — to earn a fifth set point. Then he hit the contentious, dipping crosscourt forehand.

The ball was called out and Gonzalez didn’t take a swing. Roddick challenged the call immediately, and the evidence showed that the ball just caught the line, giving Roddick the set to level at two-all and igniting a protest from Gonzalez.

The Chilean argued that he could have had a play on the ball but chair umpire Enric Molina declined to replay the point.

The episode had a similar feel to the end of Roddick’s second-round win over Brazilian Thomasz Bellucci, when he angrily objected to a decision that went against him on a match point.

“I know he was pretty upset about the challenge and that rule no one seems to know about,” Roddick said of Gonzalez.

“I can certainly sympathize with his frustrations.”

Gonzalez refused to blame one disputed call for turning the match.

“We played more than 200 points,” he said. “It was important, for sure, but it wasn’t the key of the match.”

Roddick said the knee problem that sidelined him at the end of last season was bothering him a bit, but it didn’t affect the game.