Nadia Petrova has surfaced at this year’s Australian Open, where she produced her second upset victory to enter the quarterfinals and share the spotlight that usually shines on other Russian players. Before the draw for the Australian Open was made, few picked Nadia Petrova, the 27-year-old Russian, to reach the quarterfinals.
Petrova beat French Open champion and compatriot Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 on Sunday, continuing a surprise run that sent U.S. Open champion Clijsters home after a stunning 6-0, 6-1 defeat in the third round.
Petrova’s win made her the first Russian into the quarters, where she will be joined by at least one and possibly two more.
Maria Kirilenko advanced to the quarterfinals after fellow Russian and No. 2-seeded Dinara Safina retired from their fourth-round match with an apparent leg or back injury and limped off the court. Safina was facing set point, trailing 4-5 and serving at 30-40 when she withdrew.
No. 9 Vera Zvonareva plays her fourth-round match against Victoria Azarenka of Belarus on Monday.
Petrova has equaled her best run at the Australian Open by reaching the last eight. She’s never gone further than the semifinals at a major.
She attributes some of her resurgence to the fighting spirit of Russian players.
As a young player, Petrova looked set to become a star with her big serve and solid groundstrokes
In 2003, she reached the semifinals at Roland Garros, knocking off Monica Seles and Jennifer Capriati on the way.
But she was upstaged in 2004 by other Russians. Maria Sharapova won Wimbledon that year, Anastasia Myskina won the French Open, and Kuznetsova took home the trophy at the U.S. Open.
Petrova has played the Australian Open 10 previous times, making her best showing in 2006 when she reached the quarters. Her best Grand Slam results have come at the French Open where she reached the semifinals in 2003 and 2005.
Petrova had a disappointing start to this year, losing in the first round at both Brisbane—to Henin—and Sydney.
But now, Petrova says her game is the best it’s been in years—and much of it is mental.
In the quarterfinals she will face Justine Henin, who continued her comeback to Grand Slams by beating compatriot Yanina Wickmayer, 7-6 (3), 1-6, 6-3.