Thursday, April 26, 2018
Sports

Another Federer milestone: Win No. 300 at a Grand Slam

MELBOURNE, Australia — The countless records and accolades accumulated over an illustrious career don't diminish Roger Federer's satisfaction when he sets another benchmark.

Federer became the first man to win 300 Grand Slam singles matches when he beat Grigor Dimitrov, formerly dubbed "Baby Fed" for the likeness of their styles, in the third round Friday of the Australian Open.

Federer, 34, already tops many "most of" lists in men's tennis — from the number of majors won (17) to the number of consecutive Grand Slam tournaments contested (65). Yet he still gets a thrill from the numbers.

"It's very exciting, I must tell you," he told the crowd after his 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 victory.

The No. 3 seed compared the latest milestone to his 1,000th win in tour-level matches, which he sealed 12 months ago in Brisbane. "It was a big deal for me."

Federer is 67 wins ahead of No. 2 and long-retired Jimmy Connors in Grand Slam singles wins, so the mark is safe for a while: "It's not something I ever aimed for but when it happens, it's very special. You look deeper into it, where it's all happened and how. So it's very nice."

Federer's next aim is to break a Grand Slam title drought that dates back to Wimbledon 2012. He reached two major finals in 2015, losing both to Novak Djokovic, who has replaced him as the most dominant man in the draw. He could meet Djokovic in the semifinals.

Djokovic took care of the man who ended Federer's run in the third round here last year, the Swiss star's worst run at the Australian Open since 2001.

The No. 1-ranked Djokovic needed only 25 minutes to win the first set against No. 28 seed Andreas Seppi but had a tougher time in the next two, saving two set points in the tiebreaker before winning 6-1, 7-5, 7-6 (8-6). The five-time Australian Open champion was playing at the same time as Serena Williams, a six-time Australian Open winner, so he shuffled over to Margaret Court Arena.

"I played a quality player who took out Federer last year here and who has been on the tour for many years," Djokovic said. "I'm just glad I got through."

After extending a streak of making the fourth round or better at every major since a third-round exit at the 2009 French Open, Djokovic plays No. 14 Gilles Simon in the round of 16. Federer plays David Goffin.

The top-seeded Williams raced to a 6-1, 6-1 win in 45 minutes over 18-year-old Daria Kasatkina on Rod Laver Arena to set up a fourth-round match with Margarita Gasparyan. If the fourth-round results go on rankings, she'll meet No. 5 Maria Sharapova in a quarterfinal match that will feature both of last year's finalists.

Sharapova had a milestone win when she beat Lauren Davis 6-1, 6-7 (7-5), 6-0 to record her 600th win at tour level, becoming the 17th and only fourth active women's player to reach the mark.

No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska advanced to a fourth-round match against Anna-Lena Friedsam, who beat Roberta Vinci, the Italian who ended Williams' bid for a calendar-year Slam in 2015 at the U.S. Open.

Johanna Konta, who beat No. 8 Venus Williams in the first round, became the first British woman to reach the fourth round at the Open in 29 years with a straight-sets win over Denisa Allertova.

Also reaching the fourth round today was two-time Aussie champ and No. 14 seed Victoria Azarenka. But No. 3 Garbine Muguruza lost to Barbora Strycova 6-3, 6-2. On the men's side, No. 13 Milos Raonic reached the fourth round with a 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 win over No. 21 Viktor Troicki.

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