Djokovic, Wozniacki on Open path

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Melbourne, Jan 21 (AFP) Novak Djokovic''s quest to upsetRafael Nadal and Roger Federer''s Grand Slam strangleholdreceived a helping hand today as women''s top seed CarolineWozniacki stepped up a gear at the Australian Open.

Serbia''s Djokovic, the 2008 champion, had taken the firstset 6-2 when Davis Cup team-mate Viktor Troicki retired with astomach strain, adding to a growing list of injury problems atthe season''s first major.

After Juan Martin del Potro''s demise late Thursday, thirdseed Djokovic is the only player left in Melbourne, other thanNadal and Federer, to have won a Grand Slam since 2006. Hesaid he was not sorry to play a short match.

"I think I had enough tennis already in the last coupleweeks. It''s good that you don''t spend that much time on thecourt, maybe save some energy," Djokovic said. "But I''m goingto be ready for the next match."

Djokovic will play Spanish 14th seed Nicolas Almagro inthe round of 16 as he bids to shed the unwanted "one-Slamwonder" tag.

He is regarded as the chief threat to defending championFederer and world number one Nadal, who is gunning to uniteall four Grand Slam titles for the first time since 1969.

Meanwhile, Wozniacki took sweet revenge on Slovakianpocket rocket Dominika Cibulkova, whose shock victory at lastweek''s Sydney International raised new questions about theDane''s credibility as world number one.

Wozniacki was broken three times but cashed in on an evenhigher rate by Cibulkova, the top 100''s shortest player atfive foot three inches (1.61 metres), wrapping it up 6-4, 6-3in 1hr 32min.

"Dominika is a tough player -- I lost to her in Sydneylast week so I knew it would be a tough match," Wozniackisaid. "I''m just happy I could pull through."

French Open champion Francesca Schiavone eased pastMonica Niculescu 6-0, 7-6 (7/2) and Latvian AnastasijaSevastova beat Vesna Manasieva 6-1, 6-3 to set up a last-16meeting with Wozniacki.

Federer plays Xavier Malisse later while Chinese hope LiNa was facing Barbora Zahlavova Strycova and Japan''s KeiNishikori has a showdown with Spain''s Fernando Verdasco.

Troicki joined a growing injury list after Marcos Danielretired from his match with Nadal, Karol Beck was forced outwhile playing Andy Murray and a dizzy David Nalbandian gave upon his encounter with Richard Berankis. (AFP) AH

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