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China's Peng, Swiss teen set up U.S. Open quarter-final

By Larry Fine

NEW YORK (Reuters) - China's Peng Shuai knocked out her third seeded player in a row and Swiss teenager Belinda Bencic beat a former world number one in fourth-round wins on Sunday to set up an unlikely U.S. Open quarter-final.

The unseeded 28-year-old Peng beat 14th seed Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic 6-3 6-4, and 17-year-old Bencic ousted ninth-seeded Serb Jelena Jankovic 7-6(6) 6-3 to reach the last eight in a grand-slam first for both players.

It promises to be a scintillating match-up of the world's number one ranked doubles player Peng and former world number one junior player Bencic, who won the girls' titles at last year's French Open and Wimbledon.

Peng had reached the fourth round of grand slam singles tournaments five times, while for Bencic, the victory continued her best grand slam showing and made her the youngest U.S. Open quarter-finalist since Martina Hingis won the title in 1997.

That connection was all the more relevant as Hingis was in Bencic's player's box cheering her on as a regular practice partner of the Swiss teen, who is partly coached by Hingis's mother, Melanie Molitor.

"It was always a dream to play on this court," Bencic told the crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium. "I watched it as a kid and I always dreamt about playing here.

The power-hitting Bencic said she was nervous stepping out on center court at the world's biggest tennis stadium for the first time.

"I was overwhelmed for the first time, the first games," she said. "It was just everything so huge and I had to get used to it."

Peng took down yet another seed in Czech Safarova, who had won their last four encounters.

A Wimbledon semi-finalist this year, Peng also eliminated fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland in the second round and 28th-seeded Roberta Vinci of Italy in the third.

(editing by Peter Rutherford)

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