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02 October 2023

Federer labours into quarters, Djokovic dominant

Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark returns against Anastasija Sevastova of Lativa during their round four women’s singles match at the Australian Open in Melbourne on Sunday. (AFP)


Defending champion Roger Federer made heavy work of reaching his 27th consecutive Grand Slam quarter-final with a 6-3 3-6 6-3 6-2 win over Tommy Robredo at the Australian Open on Sunday.      

Novak Djokovic had no such problems in his fourth round encounter with Nicolas Almagro, steaming past the 14th seed 6-3 6-4 6-0 to set up a last eight encounter with Thomas Berdych, who thrashed a third Spaniard, Fernando Verdasco, 6-4 6-2 6-3.           
World number one Caroline Wozniacki breezed into the women’s quarter-finals with a 6-3 6-4 victory over Latvia’s Anastasija Sevastova before engaging in more jousting with the media by making up story about a kangaroo scratch.           
A record five Spaniards had reached the men’s fourth round at Melbourne Park but, of the three who played on Sunday, only unseeded Robredo was able to win a set.          
With temperatures beginning to rise towards more customary heights after a cool first week, Federer looked in vintage form on Rod Laver Arena as he raced through the first set in 32 minutes without losing a point on his serve.    
Errors started creeping into the 29-year-old’s game in the second, with his forehand particularly wayward, and that allowed Robredo an unlikely break to level the contest.  
Federer had won the last nine of the 10 encounters between the two players and was not about to see that trend broken with his bid for a fifth Australian Open title on the line.          
The 16-times Grand Slam champion upped his aggression level to win the third before, keen to get out of the sweltering heat and with Robredo wilting, racing through the fourth to set up a meeting with Andy Roddick or fellow Swiss Stan Wawrinka.           
“It was a tough match and I’m really happy to be in the next round,” said Federer, who racked up 40 unforced errors and 50 winners in the 145-minute contest. “I’m sweating bullets out here so I’m really delighted to win this match.”
Third seed Novak Djokovic, the 2008 champion, dominated the 14th seeded Almagro from the baseline, facing just one break point in the first two sets then racing through the third in 28 minutes to seal an emphatic victory. 
The 23-year-old won his only grand slam title here in 2008 but has been knocked out in the last eight for the last two years and was delighted to end the first week with another quick contest.   
“It was a very good match,” he said. “Serve was great today, and it’s important to raise a level of performance as I did today before the quarter-finals.             
“Now the opponents are very difficult and matches are tough and unpredictable,” he added.        
Sixth seed Berdych, another of a cluster of players snapping at the heels of the dominant Rafa Nadal and Federer, was also in impressive form in disposing of Verdasco on Margaret Court Arena.   
The Czech, who reached the Wimbledon final last year, wrapped up his victory in just 118 minutes by thundering an 11th ace of the day straight down the middle of the court.           
China’s Li Na, a semifinalist here last year, continued her great run of form in 2011 by easing into the women’s last eight with a 6-3 6-3 win over eighth seed Victoria Azarenka.   
The 28-year-old, who beat Kim Clijsters to win the Sydney International warm-up tournament, said she hoped to do better than last year and perhaps even secure a first grand slam singles title for her country.              
“This is a dream for me,” she said. “I mean, until now I’m still just following the dream. Last year, I needed two more steps. So hopefully this year I can do better.”       
Wozniacki made up an elaborate story about being scratched by kangaroo before later admitting on social networking site Twitter that it was a joke.             
“Round 2 with the media:) hope you enjoyed my kangaroo story, hope you know i was just kidding:) see you on tuesday for round 3!”          
The Dane ran her own media conference earlier this week after being fed up listening to questions about her status as a world number one without a Grand Slam title.