Roger Federer shows no signs of letting up in Melbourne
Defending champion made light work of Richard Gasquet while Djokovic also advanced
Roger Federer celebrates after winning his third round match against Richard Gasquet of France at the Australian Open in Melbourne, Australia. Photo: Tracy Nearmy/EPA
The defending champion went into the encounter with a 16-2 record against his French foe and having won the last eight matches, and there was never any real doubt that he would make it nine in a row.
There were flashes of brilliance from Gasquet, particularly on his famed single-handed backhand, but he could not get a hold on the Federer serve and the Swiss emerged a 6-2 7-5 6-4 winner.
Gasquet did not create his first break point until the 27th game of the match and, although he gave himself hope by getting back on serve, Federer swiftly crushed any thoughts of a comeback.
The second seed said: “I was able to maybe stay a little bit more on the offensive, protecting my serve a little bit better. The match was close and the end could have gone to a tie-break and then you never know. Richard played well and me too, I’m just happy to win tonight.”
Only Federer, who next plays unseeded Hungarian Marton Fucsovics, and world number one Rafael Nadal have reached the fourth round without dropping a set.
Meanwhile, Novak Djokovic’s game was back but question marks remain about his body after a straight-sets win over Albert Ramos-Vinolas.
After his struggles in the heat against Gael Monfils, Djokovic looked much more assured in a 6-2 6-3 6-3 victory over his Spanish opponent. But Djokovic appeared to tweak something in his upper left leg or lower back at the end of the first set and twice needed treatment.
He said: “It was a straight sets win but almost two and a half hours, it wasn’t that easy, I had to earn all of my points. I knew Albert is a great fighter.
“For me it’s taking one match at a time. I had some incredible memories in Melbourne Park and that comes back every time I step out on the court but I have to be more humble with my expectations this time because I haven’t played for six months, but I’m very happy with where my game is.”
Having spent six months sidelined by an elbow problem, it is not surprising that Djokovic is experiencing a few physical niggles back in the heat of grand slam competition.
The problem did not affect him too badly, though, with Ramos-Vinolas unable to apply any real pressure as Djokovic moved through to a fourth-round clash with young Korean Chung Hyeon, who knocked out fourth seed Alexander Zverev in five sets.