World No.58 Maria Kirilenko, who took out Maria Sharapova in the first round of the Australian Open, reached her first Grand Slam quarterfinal through Dinara Safina’s misfortune of a recurrent back injury.
The second-seeded Safina retired down 5-4 in the opening set of the fourth-round match, with the same low back injury that forced her out of the Sony Ericsson Championships in Doha at the end of last season.
Safina’s injury is extremely painful: “I just cannot move anywhere. I mean, the physio asked me to lie on the table. I said, I cannot lie. I cannot make any movement. Whatever I try to move, it hurts terribly.” And to make things worse, Safina thinks she may have even worsened the injury because she continued to play the match.
Kirilenko, on the other hand, has problems of her own. She turns 23 on Monday, but will have to postpone her birthday celebrations: “I don’t want to get drunk before my next match. It’s going to be difficult for me to play then.”
Unseeded Kirilenko will play China’s Zheng Jie, also unseeded, in the quarterfinals. Zheng holds a 4-1 head-to-head lead over the Russian.