Hantuchova and Kuznetsova reach last eight

INDIAN WELLS, California Tue Mar 18, 2008 10:56pm GMT

Slovakia's Daniela Hantuchova returns a shot to India's Sania Mirza during their match at the Pacific Life Open tennis tournament in Indian Wells, California, March 18, 2008. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok

Slovakia's Daniela Hantuchova returns a shot to India's Sania Mirza during their match at the Pacific Life Open tennis tournament in Indian Wells, California, March 18, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Danny Moloshok

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INDIAN WELLS, California (Reuters) - Holder Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia and second-seeded Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova reached the last eight at the Pacific Life Open with straight-set wins on Tuesday.

Twice champion Hantuchova beat India's Sania Mirza 6-1 7-6 before Kuznetsova swept past 17-year-old Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark 6-2 6-3 at Indian Wells Tennis Garden.

Hantuchova, the fifth seed, held off a strong fightback by her opponent to wrap up victory in one hour, 55 minutes and set up a possible quarter-final with 2006 winner Maria Sharapova.

Fourth-seeded Russian Sharapova, unbeaten in 16 matches, was playing Ukrainian Alona Bondarenko on the showpiece Stadium Court on Tuesday.

"I thought it was a great match," Hantuchova told reporters. "Sania is a great hitter and I was expecting a really tough one today. Just being able to be in the quarters without losing a set feels really great.

"I feel like I'm hitting the ball well again," added the 24-year-old, who claimed her first WTA career title at Indian Wells in 2002. "I'm doing it the same way as last year so those two are pretty good signs. We'll see what's going to happen."

STORMED THROUGH

Hantuchova, who beat Kuznetsova in last year's final at Indian Wells, broke Mirza in the second and fourth games to storm through the opening set in 39 minutes.

After trading an early service break in the second set, the elegant Slovakian broke again in the 11th game, when her opponent double faulted, to lead 6-5.

Although Hantuchova then lost her own serve, she clinched the tie-break 7-4, sealing victory with a crunching backhand down the line.

Mirza, who has lost to Hantuchova in their two career meetings, said she had been struggling with a sore wrist all week at Indian Wells.

"I've actually had it for a few days now since we have been playing in the wind," the 21-year-old from Hyderabad added.

"In the wind, you're hitting it all over the place and your wrist takes a lot of pressure. I play a lot with my wrist, on my forehand especially. Right now it's very, very painful and I'm going to get an MRI (scan) in the next couple of days."

Later on Tuesday, top-seeded Serb Ana Ivanovic was scheduled to play Italy's Francesca Schiavone while sixth-seeded Frenchwoman Marion Bartoli was due to face twice former champion American Lindsay Davenport.

(Editing by Ken Ferris)

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