Second-seeded and defending Australian Open champion Roger Federer won in straight sets for the third consecutive match Saturday evening, beating No. 29 seed Richard Gasquet 6-2, 7-5, 6-4 to move into the fourth round in Melbourne.
Six-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic is finding his form, breaking serve five times to advance to the second week at Melbourne Park for the 11th time with a 6-2, 6-2, 6-3 victory over No. 21 seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas of Spain.
A year after Federer won the title despite coming off a six-month layoff due to knee surgery, the Swiss is attempting to tie the record currently held by Roy Emerson and Djokovic of six Australian Open titles.
Federer continued his domination of Gasquet in the third round at Rod Laver Arena as he defeated the Frenchman for the 17th time in 19 matches.
“My head’s still spinning from the match point where I got so lucky so I’m just trying to get over that one,” Federer said with a laugh on court after the match. “I think I was able to maybe stay a little bit more on the offensive than he was and maybe I was protecting my own serve a little bit better than him, I don’t know. But the second set was tight, the match was close.”
Federer won 80 percent of his first-serve points and knocked 42 winners past his opponent to advance. Gasquet struck 27 winners.
“I enjoy when we have good points. I like to see, I don’t know, the way he saved match point. The first one was a backhand down the line. Feels like he can do that in his sleep,” Federer said. “I admire that. I take pleasure out of him making that shot even though for a second I thought that this could have been the match point I had and end up losing the match. That really went through my mind. But I do take pleasure out of his shot-making, my opponent’s shot-making, because I know how much hard work has been put into it.”
The 36-year-old Federer will next face Hungarian Marton Fucsovics, who defeated Nicolas Kicker of Argentina 6-3, 6-3, 6-2. The fourth-round matchup will be the first meeting between the pair.
Djokovic, the 16th seed from Serbia, continued his comeback from six months out with an injured right elbow with a win over Ramos-Vinolas to move into the fourth round for a sixth consecutive major.
“I obviously have to be more humble this time with my expectations because I haven’t played for six months,” Djokovic said.
Djokovic will next face South Korean Hyeon Chung, who upset fourth-seeded Alexander Zverev of Germany 5-7, 7-6 (3), 2-6, 6-3, 6-0 earlier in the day.
“I’m looking forward to the next challenge,” Djokovic said. “Hyeon Chung, who has beat Zverev today, a big win for him, someone that is very disciplined, one of the Next Gens. He won in Milan last year. He’s playing great. He’s fit. He doesn’t have too many holes in his game. He’s very nice guy. You can see he’s a hard worker. It pays off. Into the second week, it’s going to be a game of small margins. So let’s see what happens.”
Fifth-seeded Dominic Thiem of Austria beat Adrian Mannarino of France 6-4, 6-2, 7-5 to set up a fourth-round match against American Tennys Sandgren, who continued his career-best run by defeating Maximilian Marterer of Germany 5-7, 6-3, 7-5, 7-6 (5).
In other third-round matches, 19th-seeded Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic defeated No. 12 seed Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina 6-3, 6-3, 6-2 and No. 25 Fabio Fognini of Italy overcame Julien Benneteau of France 3-6, 6-2, 6-1, 4-6, 6-3.
–Field Level Media