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Sunday January 19, 2014 MYT 6:58:00 PM
Sunday January 19, 2014 MYT 7:02:59 PM
by robert smith
Novak Djokovic (right) of Serbia beat Italian Fabio Fognini in the fourth round of the Australian Open tennis championship on Sunday to enter the quarter-finals. - EPA
MELBOURNE, Jan 19, 2014 (AFP) - Defending champion Novak Djokovic and third seed David Ferrer were first into the men's quarter-finals with contrasting victories at the Australian Open on Sunday.
World number two Djokovic outclassed Italian seed Fabio Fognini in straight sets to storm into the last eight in quick time, while Ferrer took the longer route.
Djokovic coasted to a 6-3, 6-0, 6-2 victory over the 15th-seeded Fognini in one hour 33 minutes to claim his 19th straight Grand Slam quarter-final.
Only Roger Federer (36) and Jimmy Connors (27) have more consecutive Grand Slam quarter-final appearances than Djokovic.
Djokovic, who is bidding for a fifth Australian title and his seventh Grand Slam, also stretched his unbeaten match run to 28 since his US Open triumph in New York last September.
He will face either Swiss eighth seed Stanislas Wawrinka or 17th-seeded Spaniard Tommy Robredo in the quarters.
"I've felt from the start of this tournament that I've been elevating my game as the tournament is going on. Every match is better," Djokovic said.
"The general feeling on the court, all the shots, using the court position really well, being aggressive, playing my style of the game.
"That's what I've done really well today overall from the first to the last point. I haven't allowed my opponent to come back to the match."
In a hollow contest, Djokovic broke Fognini's service six times from 22 break point opportunities and hit 33 winners past the at times lackadaisical Italian.
Djokovic, who has been friends with Fognini since their junior playing days in Europe, maintained his focus as the theatrical Italian played to the crowd and performed with little intensity.
It will be Djokovic's seventh straight quarter-final appearance at the Australian Open and extends his unbeaten run to 25 matches at Melbourne Park.
Djokovic is looking to become just the second man behind Roy Emerson to win four consecutive Australian Open titles.
Spain's world number three Ferrer overcame Germany's Florian Mayer in four sets on Hisense Arena.
Ferrer dropped the opening set in a tiebreaker before going on to win 6-7 (5/7), 7-5, 6-2, 6-1 in just under three hours.
It is the terrier-like Spaniard's fourth consecutive quarter-final at the Australian Open and fifth overall as he bids to better his losing semi-final appearance against Djokovic last year.
The languid Mayer, who had beaten Ferrer three times in their seven previous encounters, troubled the Spaniard in the opening set.
But Ferrer progressively wore him down, hitting a total of 64 winners and claiming nine service breaks.
"I am proud for that. The last four or five years I have played very good in the Grand Slams," Ferrer said.
"Every day I am playing better. Today was my best match in the tournament and now I am in the quarter-final."
Ferrer will next face either Czech seventh seed Tomas Berdych or 19th-seeded South African Kevin Anderson.
In Sunday's other fourth-round match, Wawrinka was due to face Robredo in the night match on Rod Laver Arena.
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