MELBOURNE, Australia — Venus Williams reached the Australian Open quarterfinals for the first time in five years, beating Poland’s Marta Domachowska 6-4, 6-4 this morning at Melbourne Park.
The Wimbledon champion will face fourth-ranked Ana Ivanovic in the quarterfinals.
Williams, in her first tournament since withdrawing from the season-ending champion at Madrid in November due to illness, lost the 2003 Australian final to sister Serena and hadn’t gone beyond the fourth round in the season-opening major since.
Venus Williams has six Grand Slam singles titles, but her run to the 2003 final remains her best performance in Australia.
“I have come close, then this girl named Williams took my dream away,” Venus said of her Australian aspirations.
Serena Williams, the defending Australian champion, moved into the quarterfinals Sunday along with top-ranked Justine Henin and fifth-seeded Maria Sharapova, a finalist last year.
Serena will play No. 3 Jelana Jankovic, and Henin will face Sharapova.
Ivanovic had a 6-1, 7-6 (2) win earlier today over Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki. Ivanovic didn’t have a single winner in the first set and won just 10 of 25 points on her serve as she dropped serve three times.
“I have a lot of respect for her, she is a great person,” Williams said of Ivanovic.
With sister Serena shouting encouragement, Williams had her hands full with Domachowska.
Far from being intimidated by Williams’ power, Domachowska matched it with her own — she had aces on three of her first five serves — along with a variety of spins.
Williams often found herself on the defensive as Domachowska swung for winners at every opportunity.
Henin beat Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei on Sunday and now will put her 32-match winning streak on the line against Sharapova in their first meeting since the season-ending championship final in Madrid.
Sharapova pounded fellow Russian Elena Dementieva 6-2, 6-0, breaking the 11th-ranked player in six of her seven service games, including one at love to finish off the match in 62 minutes.
“Justine’s the one to beat,” Sharapova said. “She’s on a pretty good winning streak, but every match is new.
“The one in Madrid was tough but physically she got me in the end — she was tougher than I was in the end. But I had many chances and I was very close to winning.”
Serena Williams advanced to the quarterfinals with a 6-3, 6-4 over No. 11 Nicole Vaidisova, while Jankovic beat Australia’s Casey Dellacqua 7-6 (3), 6-1.
Henin won the Sydney International title in the leadup to the Australian Open, beating second-ranked Svetlana Kuznetsova in the final, and has added wins over Aiko Nakamura, Olga Poutchkova and No. 25 Francesca Schiavone at Melbourne Park.
Sharapova has not dropped a set in wins over Jelena Tosic Kostanic, former No. 1-ranked Lindsay Davenport, Elena Vesnina and Dementieva.
No. 2 Rafael Nadal also advanced to the quarterfinals in straight sets, including an abbreviated 6-3, 3-0 win in the fourth round when Paul-Henri Mathieu withdrew because of an injured left leg late Sunday.
Nadal’s match was over at 10:30 p.m. at Rod Laver Arena on Sunday after he won 11 of 12 points to open the second set.
“I was playing well today, maybe I was playing my best tennis in Australia this year,” said Nadal, the three-time French Open champion. “I’m happy to be in the quarterfinals — would have preferred not like this.”