Australian Open Day 3: Federer cruises into third round
World number three Roger Federer cruised into the Australian Open third round with a smooth, straight-sets win over Aleksandr Dolgopolov on Wednesday.
The 17-time Grand Slam champion was never in any trouble against the 35th-ranked Ukrainian and strolled to a regulation 6-3, 7-5, 6-1 win in one hour 33 minutes on Rod Laver Arena.
It was 34-year-old Federer's 299th Grand Slam singles victory as he chases his fifth Australian crown.
Federer practised with the pony-tailed Dolgopolov in Dubai in the off-season and took his record over him to 3-0.
Dolgopolov's game unravelled in the final set as the Swiss maestro put the finishing touches to a convincing win.
The third seed, who has now reached the third round in all of his 17 visits to Melbourne, broke Dolgopolov's serve five times and did not face a single break point on his own serve.
The Swiss legend hammered a total of 39 winners, which included 25 aces in a dominant serving performance.
Federer will now have a third-round encounter with either Bulgarian 27th seed Grigor Dimitrov or Argentina's Marco Trungelliti.
"I'm very happy. The conditions are extremely quick so you are not going to find that much rhythm out there," Federer said.
"Aleksandr can play great when you give him too much time so maybe it wasn't a bad thing that it was as fast as it was.
"But I served well and as the match went on I started to feel better and better, but the second set was crucial and I'm glad I got it done."
Dominant world number one and defending champion Serena Williams powered into the Australian Open third round Wednesday with a straight-sets demolition of Taiwan's Hsieh Su-wei.
The six-time Melbourne Park winner, who is gunning to equal Steffi Graf's Open-era record of 22 Grand Slam titles, blitzed Hsieh 6-1, 6-2 on Rod Laver Arena.
She next faces either Russian Daria Kasatkina with a potential quarter-final clash against arch-rival Maria Sharapova awaiting.
"She was definitely a tricky opponent but it was a good match for me to play someone like that. I needed that," said Williams, who made her Grand Slam debut in Melbourne in 1998.
"It all started here for me, that is where I played my first match in a Grand Slam, on this court, and I'm still going. It's an honour."
Williams gave herself an "A" for effort as she battled past Italy's Camila Giorgi in the first round, easing concerns over an injured knee that troubled her in the build-up, but she didn't need to try as hard against Hsieh.
On paper, the 90th ranked Taiwanese was no match for Williams. She reached the tournament second week as a qualifier in 2008, but had only won two matches here since.
Williams though was taking nothing for granted in only her second tour-level match since the US Open in September.
Again wearing a canary yellow pleated skirt and matching midriff-baring shirt, she was slow to get going with her serve rusty but she held on to go 1-0 in front.
Williams soon got into the groove and was moving well, pressuring the Hsieh serve with searing returns and a wild volley from the Taiwanese handed her the initial break to pull 2-0 clear.
The 34-year-old American, who dropped only three matches in 56 last season, came under pressure in the third game but held firm to maintain the advantage before Hsieh finally got on the scoreboard by holding serve for 1-3.
As Williams warmed to the task, Hsieh's Grand Slam inexperience came to the fore with the American breaking again to love then completing the set in 28 minutes.
Williams was consistently firing down serves 30 kph (18.6 mph) faster than Hsieh and it was taking its toll, with weak returns opening up the court for the top seed.
She made the most of her opportunities and sealed the match with an ace for a routine victory in one hour exactly.
Williams won three majors, the Australian and French Opens and Wimbledon, last year which took her to within one of Graf's long-time record of 22, and put her three clear of both Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova.
Melbourne Park has been a happy hunting ground. She claimed her first Australian Open title in 2003, beating sister Venus in the final, and reached her sixth last year when she toppled arch-rival Sharapova.
Five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova cruised into the Australian Open third round on Wednesday, sweeping past Aliaksandra Sasnovich with the loss of just three games.
The on-song Russian, 28, shook off any early-season rust in style during the opening round and continued her impressive form, crushing the 105th-ranked Belarusian 6-2, 6-1 with the roof shut on Rod Laver Arena as rain came down.
A winner here in 2008 and a three-time runner-up, Sharapova was always heavily favoured, although the departure of second seed Simona Halep to a qualifier on Tuesday showed there are no guarantees.
The win keeps her on track for a potential last-eight clash against her nemesis Serena Williams, who beat her in the final last year and has won every match they have played since 2004. Williams is on court later Wednesday.
"It's great to be back on this court after such a good run (to the final) last year," said Sharapova. "It was an opponent I had never faced before which is always tricky and I'm happy I got there."
In her 13th appearance at Melbourne Park, the fifth seed was in the zone from her first service game, which she comfortably held before a forehand long from Sasnovich handed the Russian the first break of the day.
She raced to a 4-0 lead with the Belarusian, playing her first Australian Open, struggling to counter her powerful groundstrokes.
But as Sharapova served for 5-0, Sasnovich started finding her range in returning serve and a misjudged forehand from the Russian allowed her back into the set at 1-4.
It was only a temporary reprieve with Sharapova chiding herself and bouncing back to break again but the feisty Sasnovich, a largely unknown quantity, refused to go away.
Sharapova double-faulted on set point as the nerves jangled and her 21-year-old opponent made the most of it with some quality baseline rallies helping her pull back another game.
But her service game again let her down and Sharapova capitalised to secure the set in 38 minutes.
The Belarusian made a run to the Seoul final as a qualifier last season, but had never beaten a player inside the top 30.
She nevertheless has shown promise, winning 11 consecutive finals at the Challenger and Futures level between 2011 and 2014, helping prepare her for a shot at the likes of Sharapova.
Ultimately, the Russian's big-match experience paid off and she raced to a 3-0 lead in the second set as Sasnovich's confidence waned and an increasing number of errors crept in.
Her opponent managed to hold serve once to keep the score respectable but the win was a foregone conclusion.
Sharapova next plays either American Lauren Davis or Slovakia's Magdalena Rybarikova, with her early trouble-free performances a confidence boost after her late 2015 season was wrecked by injuries.
Despite this she managed two tournament wins (Brisbane and Rome), with a 39-9 win-loss record for 2015.
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