Federer eases into fourth round

No surprises as top seeds Roger Federer and Serena Williams advance at the Australian Open.

    Crowd favourite Federer enjoys the Aussie sunshine as he books his spot in the fourth round [AFP]

    It was business as usual for the top seeds at the Australian open as Roger Federer and Serena Williams booked their spots in the second week of the season opener in Melbourne.

    After yesterday's dramatic turn of events, Nadia Petrova's slaying of Kim Clijsters hinted that maybe a few more upsets could be on the agenda, but everything went according to plan in Saturday's third round clashes.

    Top seed and three-time champion Roger Federer played Albert Montanes in a Rod Laver Arena crammed with 15,000 fans and top-ranked and defending champion Serena Williams took on Carla Suarez Navarro at the neighbouring show arena with a retractable roof that seats 10,000.

    One hour and 48 minutes and 1:21 later, respectively, Federer and Williams walked off their courts.

    Federer beat Montanes 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 and Williams defeated Suarez Navarro 6-0, 6-3.

    Growing confidence

    Federer, his confidence growing with each match, provided a masterful display against Montanes, extending his incredible record of making it to the last 16 of every grand slam since the 2004 French Open.

    "I feel good, I feel confident,'' Federer said.

    "Pretty straightforward match. Physically I'm fine and mentally fresh and that's the way you want to go into the second week.''

    "I don't want to say I'm playing the best tennis of my life, because I haven't had to so far," the world number one said.

    "I'm happy I survived a scare against Andreev. After that, I was able to come through comfortably in the next two rounds into week two.

    Williams also turned in her best performance of the week, trouncing Navarro to remain on track to defend the title she won the fourth time last year.

    Williams, who beat Dinara Safina in last year's final, needed a marathon final game of the opening set Saturday to clinch it, facing five break points, 13 deuces and won on her eighth set point.

    The final game lasted nearly 20 minutes - longer than the five previous games combined in the 37-minute set.

    "I think it was definitely the toughest 6-love set, especially in the end because she was really fighting for it,'' Williams said.

    "I thought, 'OK, Serena, don't put too much pressure on this. Worst-case scenario it will be 5-1.'''

    Her older sister Venus had a tougher time but still managed to carve out a 6-1 7-6 win over Australia's Casey Dellacqua and said she had lost none of her hunger.

    "Who's ever satisfied? The people that have retired," she said.

    "The people still on tour, we're not satisfied. I think that's definitely my attitude."

    The Williams siblings could meet in the semi-finals but Venus must first overcome Francesca Schiavone of Italy, who beat Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland 6-2, 6-2.


    Serbia's Novak Djokovic showed that he was building the kind of momentum that carried him to the 2008 title, giving up just four games in a 6-1 6-1 6-2 demolition of Uzbekistan's Denis Istomin.

    "At some stage in the tournament you want to have a straight sets win, an easy win, so you can get fast off the court and try to save all the energy as much as you can for the upcoming challenges, which are obviously gonna be more difficult," Djokovic said.

    "So it was good to have the match like this."

    Australia's top player, former No1 Lleyton Hewitt, advanced when 2006 finalist Marcos Baghdatis had to retire with a right shoulder injury with Hewitt leading 6-0, 4-2 in a night match at Rod Laver Arena.

    The last time the pair met here, they started just before midnight and concluded the match - won by Hewitt - at 4:34 a.m. Hewitt now plays Federer in the fourth round.

    This Hewitt-Baghdatis rematch lasted just 54 minutes.

    "I just said to him, 'mate you've got a lot of ticker (heart) to come back like you did today,''' Hewitt said he told Baghdatis when the Cypriot player came to the net to retire.

    Baghdatis had clutched his shoulder during changeovers and motioned to his coach that he was having difficulty breathing due to the pain.

    "I just feel some pain on the shoulder ... I couldn't hit the forehand,'' Baghdatis said.

    "I couldn't control the ball. I didn't think that it would be this painful during the match.''

    Russian Davydenko has yet to drop a set this week and is in ominous form [AFP]
    Dark horse

    Nikolay Davydenko is also continuing to impress those who tipped the Russian as a dark horse for the title after he eased to a routine 6-0 6-3 6-4 victory over Spain's Juan Monaco.

    Yet to drop a set this week, Davydenko will play Fernando Verdasco in the fourth round after the Spaniard was gifted a place in the last 16 when his Austrian opponent Stefan Koubek retired from the effects of a mystery virus.

    Earlier, No20 Mikhail Youzhny withdrew from his scheduled third-round match against Poland's Lukasz Kubot with a wrist injury. Kubot advanced in a walkover and will play Djokovic.

    Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who lost the final to Djokovic in 2008, beat Tommy Haas of Germany 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 7-5 in a night match. Tsonga will play Nicolas Almagro of Spain, who beat Alejandro Falla of Colombia 6-4, 6-3, 6-4.

    In women's matches, US Open runner-up Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark beat Shahar Peer of Israel 6-4, 6-0. Wozniacki will face Li Na of China, who equalled her best run at Melbourne Park when she advanced 7-5, 3-6, 6-2 over 2008 semi-finalist Daniela Hantuchova.

    Sam Stosur beat Italian Alberta Brianti 6-4, 6-1, No7 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus had a 6-0, 6-2 win over Italy's Tathiana Garbin to set up a fourth-rounder against No9 Vera Zvonareva of Russia, who beat Argentina's Gisela Dulko 6-1, 7-5.

    Stosur will next play Serena Williams. No13-seeded Stosur beat the 11-time Grand Slam singles champion the last time they played in California last year.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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