Roger Federer improved his six-year winning streak to 15 matches against Lleyton Hewitt with an overpowering 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 victory in the fourth round at the Australian Open on Monday.

The top-ranked Federer, beaten in last year’s final at Melbourne Park by Rafael Nadal, hasn’t lost to Hewitt since the Australian beat him in a Davis Cup match in the same Rod Laver Arena in late 2003.

The Swiss star has reached the semifinals or better here every year since winning the 2004 title, his first of three in Australia. He improved to 17-8 against Hewitt, and their 25 head-to-head matches is the most among active players.

Federer broke Hewitt’s serve in the ninth game of the third set with a stinging cross-court forehand that left Hewitt standing in the middle of the court. Federer held service in his next game, setting up match point with an ace and clinching it with a service winner.

“When I saw the draw and saw Lleyton floating around, it’s not something I like to see,” Federer said.

The win advanced Federer to a quarterfinal against Nikolay Davydenko. Davydenko was dragged into a fifth set before quelling the challenge of Spaniard Fernando Verdasco. The Russian bungled a fourth set tiebreaker and had to dig out a 6-2, 7-5, 4-6, 6-7(5), 6-3 win in almost four hours.

In other matches, 2008 champion Novak Djokovic beat Poland’s Lukasz Kubot 6-1, 6-2, 7-5 and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France, who lost to Djokovic in the 2008 final, beat Nicolas Almagro of Spain 6-3, 6-4, 4-6, 6-7(6), 9-7. Djokovic, who will play Tsonga in the quarterfinals, said he’s playing well despite having a dry run at Grand Slam tournaments since his Melbourne Park victory.

Keeping the tradition going

Like Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Jennifer Capriati and Lindsay Davenport before them, Venus and Serena Williams did their part earlier Monday to ensure a 34-year-record at the Australian Open remained intact.

The Williams sisters won their fourth-round matches, extending a mark in which an American woman has been in the quarterfinals every year since 1977.

Venus Williams beat Francesca Schiavone 3-6, 6-2, 6-1 and Serena defeated Sam Stosur of Australia 6-4, 6-2 in just over an hour.

Meanwhile, Leander Paes kept himself in contention for twin titles after making the quarterfinals of the men’s doubles and mixed doubles events.

Paes and his Czech partner Lukas Dlouhy, seeded third, beat the American pair of John Isner and Sam Querrey 6-3, 7-5 in the second round of the men’s doubles competition.

The next match, as top seed with partner Cara Black in mixed doubles, was hardly a trouble for Paes as the pairing shut out Akgul Amanmuradova and Rik De Voest 6-4, 6-2 in the second round.

In the junior event, Vaidik Munshaw’s campaign was over as he, partnering China’s Chuhan Wang, lost in the boys’ doubles first round. The duo was humbled 2-6, 6-7(3) by fourth seeds Liang-Chi Huang of Taipei and Yasutaka Uchiyama of Japan.

Rishika Sunkara also had disappointment in store as she lost her girls’ doubles first round along with partner Yuki Ito of Japan. The unseeded pair fought hard but lost 7-6(5), 2-6, 6-10 to the sixth seeded pair of Anna-Lena Friedsam of Germany and Mai Grage of Denmark.

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