Andy Roddick led a sweep of the top four men’s seeds at the Brisbane International as Justine Henin continued her comeback effort in the sport.
World number seven Roddick continued his steady progress as he tests the knee injury, which had kept him off court since losing in Shanghai last October with a defeat of Los Angeles-based Australian Carsten Ball, 7-6 (7-0) 6-3.
“He serves huge,” said an impressed Roddick. “His first serve is good, his second serve is great.” Roddick fought off a set point in the opening chapter, but swept the tiebreaker against the number 132 Ball who played last summer’s LA final as he got his game into harness.
The American set up a quarterfinal clash with Richard Gasquet, who accounted for Australian qualifier Matthew Ebden 6-3, 6-4.
Seven-time Grand Slam winner Henin, who has reversed a 2008 retirement, dispatched Sesil Karatantcheva of Kazakhstan 6-4, 6-3.
But it was not one-way traffic for the wildcard Belgian, who trailed 0-2 in both sets and struck 29 errors against 23 winners, going through in just over an hour and a quarter.
Roddick paced other men’s leading seeds to victory, followed on by Radek Stepanek, Gael Monfils and number four Tomas Berdych, who swamped Marcos Baghdatis 6-0, 6-1.
There was heavy weather for second-seeded holder Stepanek, as the veteran Czech needed to stage a comeback to get past Oleksandr Dolgopolov of the Ukraine 5-7, 7-6 (7-4), 6-2.
Third seed Monfils struggled with some shoulder pain but got through against compatriot Florent Serra 6-7 (5-7), 7-6 (7-5), 6-1 to become the last survivor out of seven Frenchman who began the week.
Unseeded James Blake won a second match of the season, defeating fighting Frenchman Marc Gicquel in more than two hours, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (10-8).
“I wasn’t dictating the play as much today,” said Blake. “Maybe I was not as aggressive — and I’m old enough to know better.
“But I was not going to let him beat me. You play your best when you have that clear mindset. To be honest I would prefer to win in two set but it’s good to get some tough match-ups in the lead-up to a Grand Slam.” Women’s fourth-seed Daniela Hantuchova reached the last eight over Hungarian Agnes Szavay 6-3, 6-1 while Czech Lucie Safarova upset Canadian sixth seed Aleksandra Wozniak 6-3, 6-1.