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Andy Murray keeps his focus as Kim Clijsters and Rafa Nadal lose theirs

Murray keeps his focus on the court as Kim and Rafa serve notice

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UPDATED:

00:29 GMT, 27 March 2012

So far this week Andy Murray has been serenely calm amid the swirling currents of professional tennis, which presently see Kim Clijsters denying claims of her imminent retirement and Rafael Nadal resigning from the ATP’s Player Council.

And Murray, given a free passage through to the fourth round of the Sony Ericsson Open by Canadian Milos Raonic, will try to continue his dominance over French players when he faces Gilles Simon.

Not quitting: Kim Clijsters insists she is playing on

Not quitting: Kim Clijsters insists she is playing on

Victory would take him a step nearer
to a last-four meeting with Nadal, whose resignation from the body
representing fellow professionals is symptomatic of a distinct cooling
of relations with his long-time rival and fellow member Roger Federer.

Nadal has quit because of what is said to be a lack of support, and there are two specific things he is unhappy about.

The first was the rebuffing of
Richard Krajicek to become chief executive of the ATP, the job going
instead to another ex-pro, Brad Drewett.

Keeping his cool: Andy Murray has remained focused

Keeping his cool: Andy Murray has remained focused

Then there has been the lack of
progress on his idea to introduce a ranking system based on two years’
results. On both fronts he was opposed by Federer.

Clijsters is already out of this
event, and it was feared persistent ankle injuries may bring her
glittering two-part career — either side of motherhood — to an end.

However, the 28-year-old Belgian, who
has won four Grand Slam titles, used Twitter last night to deny the
rumours, following defeat
here to Yanina Wickmayer.

Clijsters said: ‘I am not quitting! Not yet! I have some great tennis left in me! Just making that very clear!’

All this will not detract Murray from
trying to register his 39th win in 40 matches against Gallic opposition
when he takes on Simon.

Australian Open 2012: Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams win

Sharapova and Williams make smooth progress into last 32 in Melbourne

Maria Sharapova made swift progress into the third round of the Australian Open, dropping just one game against American Jamie Hampton.

The Russian, seeded four, was pushed harder than the 6-0 6-1 scoreline suggests, but the outcome was never in doubt.

Hampton was comfortable trading blows from the baseline but Sharapova's ability to put away the mid-court ball proved decisive.

Easy: Maria Sharapova strolled into the next round at the Australian Open

Easy: Maria Sharapova strolled into the next round at the Australian Open

Hampton reached deuce in four of the six games in the opening set, but had to wait until the start of the second to get on the scoreboard.

And even then she was given little opportunity to build on that breakthrough as Sharapova maintained the pressure to secure the win in 64 minutes and a last-32 clash with Angelique Kerber or Stephanie Dubois.

Another former world No 1 also progressed early on day four in Melbourne, with Ana Ivanovic seeing off Michaella Krajicek 6-2 6-3.

Thirteen-time grand slam champion Serena Williams was pushed a little harder, especially in the second set, before progressing courtesy of a 6-0 6-4 win over Barbora Zahlavova Strycova.

Williams' only real concern early on was the sun from one end which forced her to abandon her usual powerful service delivery in favour of a sliced action.

Sitting down on the job: Former World No 1 Serena Williams also made it through

Sitting down on the job: Former World No 1 Serena Williams also made it through

But such was her domination in the rallies that her Czech opponent still failed to make any headway.

The second set was tighter with Zahlavova Strycova holding her own until a break gave Williams the chance to serve for the match.

The world number 49 had a point to make it 5-5 but Williams saw it out to move into a last-32 clash with either Dominika Cibulkova or Greta Arn.

Williams' scheduled fourth-round opponent is Vera Zvonareva and the seventh seed moved a step closer to that clash with a 6-1 7-6 (7/3) victory over Lucie Hradecka.

Kaia Kanepi, the 25th seed from Estonia, is out, though, after losing 6-2 7-5 to Ekaterina Makarova.

Sealed with a kiss: Petra Kvitova had to fight hard to make it through

Sealed with a kiss: Petra Kvitova had to fight hard to make it through

Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova hit back from a break down in the deciding set to edge out Spain's Carla Suarez Navarro.

Second seed Kvitova won the opener but then looked in real trouble when Suarez Navarro cruised through the second and established a 2-0 lead in the third.

The Czech battled level, however, before completing a 6-2 2-6 6-4 victory in one hour and 47 minutes.

'It was okay at the beginning but then I made many, many mistakes,' Kvitova said.

'I can improve for sure. It was very tough to get back in the third set.'