Sunday, December 17, 2017
Sports

Federer of old makes an appearance

MELBOURNE, Australia — Roger Federer relaxed into the chair, his arms folded across his chest in a casual, confident way, and savored a vintage Australian Open performance.

The 17-time Grand Slam champion, seeded a lowly-by-his-standards 17th after spending six months on the sideline to let his left knee heal, needed only 90 minutes to beat Tomas Berdych 6-2, 6-4, 6-4 in the third round Friday.

This was against a highly credentialed pro, seeded No. 10, who beat Federer in the Wimbledon quarterfinals in 2010 on the way to the final. Berdych reached the quarterfinals or better in Australia the previous six years and had beaten Federer in six of their previous 22 matches.

Federer said he felt like he struggled against the qualifiers in his first two rounds and knew the degree of difficulty would rise sharply. He next faces No. 5 Kei Nishikori. And there's a potential quarterfinal match against top-ranked Andy Murray.

"It's just crazy how quick I got out of the blocks," Federer said of his almost flawless match against Berdych. "What a difference it was in the feeling afterward. I did surprise myself.

"From the baseline, honestly, I felt worlds better than in the first couple of rounds."

He next plays fifth-ranked Kei Nishikori, who beat Lukas Lacko 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 to reach the fourth round for a sixth straight year.

Murray said he had no trouble with his sore right ankle as he advanced to the fourth round for the ninth straight year with a 6-4, 6-2, 6-4 win over No. 31 Sam Querrey.

No Americans remain in the men's draw. No. 23-seeded Jack Sock followed Querrey out, losing 7-6 (7-4), 7-5, 6-7 (8-10), 6-3 to No. 12 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

Venus Williams routed Duan Yingying 6-1, 6-0 in 59 minutes to reach the fourth round in Australia for the 10th time.

"It's good (but) it's never enough," she said, looking ahead to her fourth-round match against Mona Barthel. "I've tasted it before and it's always a great feeling because it means, hey, I have an opportunity for the quarterfinals. That's what I'm going to go for."

Today, American qualifier Jennifer Brady, in her first Grand Slam, made the fourth round with a 7-6 (7-4), 6-2 win over 14th-seeded Elena Vesnina. Brady, 21, began the day having won only two matches in the top flight — back-to-back wins at the WTA event at Guangzhou, China, last year — and she had missed out on qualifying for the U.S. Open three times, and at the French Open and Wimbledon last year.

Ekaterina Makarova, the 30th seed, blew a one-set, 4-0 lead over No. 6 Dominika Cibulkova before winning 6-2, 6-7 (3-7), 6-3.

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