Sunday, January 20, 2013

Federer the detonator as Tomic bombs

PHOTO | PAUL CROCK Switzerland's Roger Federer (L) shares a light moment after victory in his men's singles match against Australia's Bernard Tomic (R) on the sixth day of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 19, 2013.

PHOTO | PAUL CROCK Switzerland's Roger Federer (L) shares a light moment after victory in his men's singles match against Australia's Bernard Tomic (R) on the sixth day of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 19, 2013.  AFP

By AFP

MELBOURNE

Swiss great Roger Federer put big-talking Australian Bernard Tomic firmly in his place Saturday as he joined Andy Murray and Serena Williams in the second week of the Australian Open.

The revered 17-time Grand Slam-winner, afforded a bigger cheer than Tomic as he entered Rod Laver Arena, held court as he swept to a straight-sets win, after coming through a tight second-set tie-break, 6-4, 7-6 (7/5), 6-1.

After Tomic had talked up his chances of an upset, Federer's motivation was clear as he broke immediately and took the first set, clawed his way back from 4-1 down in the second-set tie-break and then sped through the third.

Federer, who became the first man to collect 250 Grand Slam wins, will now face Canada's Milos Raonic in the fourth round as he continues his bid for a fifth Australian Open crown.

"Overall we both played a great match. Bernard has had a great run and he really got the best out of me tonight, so I hope he can keep it up, I really wish him the best," Federer said.

"You've got to expect the unexpected and Bernard's got the tools to do that. The court was playing a touch faster when we played last year so it allows him to play a bit more aggressive and he's a big guy with a powerful serve."

Earlier, Williams and defending champion Victoria Azarenka came through their first uncomfortable moments, and Murray was also tested before reaching the last 16 at Melbourne Park.

Williams, eyeing a calendar-year Grand Slam, was broken for the first time in the tournament by Japan's Ayumi Morita, before recovering from 0-3 down in the second set to win 6-1, 6-3.

World number one Azarenka screamed at herself and thrashed her racquet before overcoming an unexpectedly stiff challenge by America's Jamie Hampton, who bravely played through severe back pain.

Argentina's Juan Martin Del Potro, seeded six, became the tournament's biggest casualty when the 2009 US Open champion slumped to a five-set defeat to unseeded Frenchman Jeremy Chardy.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Richard Gasquet also went through, and Gilles Simon came through a nearly five-hour, five-set marathon with Gael Monfils as four Frenchmen made the fourth round, equalling the country's best performance.

In the most compelling day so far, Murray extended his Grand Slam winning streak to 10 matches but not before a thorough workout from hitting partner Ricardas Berankis, and he let his frustrations show in the 6-3, 6-4, 7-5 win.

The US Open champion trailed by a break of serve in the second set and appeared agitated at various stages, hitting his racquet on the court and yelling at his courtside box.

"I was struggling," Murray said. "He (Berankis) was making me feel pretty frustrated. We know each other well and we have practised together. He was making me feel pretty uncomfortable out there."

Williams unleashed her fastest ever serve, a 207 kilometres per hour (128 mph) bullet which equalled a speed clocked in round two against Garbine Muguruza, as she subdued the challenge of Morita.

"I feel today was actually a really good match for me," said Williams, a five-time winner at Melbourne Park and holder of 15 Grand Slam titles.

"I was involved in a lot of longer points, something I definitely wanted. I feel good. I hope I can keep this level up and go higher."

But Azarenka admitted she needed to improve "everything" to successfully defend her title after surviving a scare against Hampton, who winced as she played and was close to tears from her back pain.

"It was definitely tough," said Azarenka, who won 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 and next plays Elena Vesnina.

World number seven Del Potro won four titles last year and dropped just 13 games in the first two rounds, but he found Chardy in inspired form and couldn't recover after going two sets down, finally succumbing in five.

Italy's Andreas Seppi ousted 12th seed Marin Cilic, but Tsonga found it easier with a straight-sets win over Blaz Kavcic, who was on an IV drip just two days ago after playing a five-hour five-setter in intense heat.