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Sunday January 20, 2013
AUSTRALIAN OPENMELBOURNE PARK, MELBOURNE (Jan 14-27)
ROGER Federer claimed a Grand Slam milestone as he fought off the challenge of rising local star Bernard Tomic to join Andy Murray in the last 16 at the Australian Open yesterday.
The Swiss 17-time major winner and second seed was pushed before clinching a 6-4, 7-6 (7-5), 6-1 victory over the 43rd-ranked Tomic in almost two hours on Rod Laver Arena.
British third seed Murray earlier marched on at the expense of his Lithuanian practice partner Ricardas Berankis 6-3, 6-4, 7-5, while former US Open champion Juan Martin Del Potro was a shock big-name casualty on day six.
Argentina’s sixth seed Del Potro crashed out to Frenchman Jeremy Chardy in five sets.
Federer was stretched at times in a compelling night match before becoming the first man to win 250 Grand Slam matches with his victory over Tomic to reach the fourth round in Melbourne for the 12th straight year.
The 31-year-old world No. 2, who is chasing his fifth Australian crown, will now face big-serving Canadian 13th seed Milos Raonic in the round of 16 tomorrow.
It was a much-improved performance from 20-year-old Tomic, who lost starry-eyed to Federer 6-2, 6-2, 6-4 in the fourth round at last year’s Australian Open.
“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.
Tomic said: “I was pretty satisfied with my tennis. I was competing out there, trying to hang in there with him. He just came up with good stuff when he really needed it the most.”
Reigning US Open champion Murray put away Berankis in the day session on Rod Laver Arena.
The Scot said he was looking to improve after his latest win.
“I’ve won in straight sets in my first three matches. I’m through to the fourth round having not having played my best tennis today (yesterday). Hopefully I’ll improve for the next one,” he said.
Murray, who became the first British man to win a Grand Slam title since Fred Perry in 76 years with last year’s win at Flushing Meadows, will next play Gilles Simon, who came through marathon five-setter with Gael Monfils.
In the day’s shock result, 36th-ranked Chardy raced to a two sets to love lead, before Del Potro pulled back to level the match only for Chardy to go on and win 6-3, 6-3, 6-7 (3/7), 3-6, 6-3 on Hisense Arena.
Chardy was ecstatic to have beaten the 2009 US Open champion and will now face Italian 21st seed Andreas Seppi in an unexpected matchup.
Seppi upset Croatian 12th seed Marin Cilic in another five-setter.
“I beat Murray last year in Cincinnati, but here it’s something more because it’s the Australian Open, third round, I play a top player,” Chardy said.
“It’s a big win for me. Maybe the best of my career. I’m so happy, I enjoyed it.”
Del Potro, who was playing in his first official tournament of the year, has yet to win from two sets down.
Elsewhere, 2008 runner-up Jo-Wilfried Tsonga had few problems with Slovenia’s Blaz Kavcic, winning 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 to set up an encounter with with fellow Frenchman Richard Gasquet.
Kavcic was backing up after his near five-hour five-set epic win over Australian James Duckworth and was largely a spent force against the seventh seeded Tsonga.
Ninth seed Gasquet took 2hr 25min to get past Croatia’s Ivan Dodig in four sets while Raonic ousted German Philipp Kohlschreiber in straight sets. – AFP
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