TENNIS / Juan Martin del Potro joins seeded casualties; Azarenka and Serena advance to the fourth round
: 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 on Saturday.
The Swiss 17-time major winner and second seed was pushed before clinching a 6-4, 7-6(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. The sixth seed 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 and 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 on Monday. 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 responded, “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.” In the day’s shock result, 36th-ranked Jeremy 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), 3-6, 6-3 on Hisense Arena. In the women’s section, third seed Serena Williams eased into the Australian Open fourth round, but defending champion Victoria Azarenka was made to work hard and play “ugly” to stay in the tournament.
Five-time champion Serena powered past Japan’s Ayumi Morita 6-1, 6-3 after a minor second-set wobble, but it was much tougher for the top seed who survived a scare before beating injured American Jamie Hampton in three sets.
The Belarusian came through the match on Rod Laver Arena 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 to set up a clash with unseeded Russian Elena Vesnina.
250 and counting…
Roger Federer became the first man to win 250 Grand Slam matches