Former world No. 1 and Australian Open No. 2 seed Roger Federer stood on the train tracks Saturday in the face of the oncoming Bernard Tomic “The Tank Engine” and said, “Not gonna happen.”
Federer subdued the young Aussie, who had brazenly talked-up his chances against the Swiss during the week, by an anti-climactic 6-4, 7-6(5), 6-1 score line.
Apparently unaware of his fall off in the third set, Tomic said afterward, “It’s just a matter of time when I get up to the big group of boys in the Top 10. I know I’m going to be in there with this attitude.”
Federer for his part in his post-match conference struggled to recall if Tomic had improved since the last time they played.
“I played him Cincinnati last time around,” Federer said. “That was a quick court, best of three sets. Over in a hurry really. I got off to a good start in that match, as well. Then it’s over quickly. I mean, I would think so. He’s obviously played today’s match very differently than he did play the last couple matches I played against him. Yes, I would think so. He has improved.”
In other words, “Eh.”
Besides the Swiss GOAT taking the stage, Saturday was ripe with upsets in Melbourne as unseeded Frenchman Jeremy Chardy toppled No. 6 Juan Martin del Potro 6-3, 6-3, 6-7(3), 3-6, 6-3, and No. 21 seed Andreas Seppi of Italy shocked No. 12 Marin Cilic 6-7(2), 6-3, 2-6, 6-4, 6-2.
“It’s the first time I’ve passed the second round here also in Australia, so it is very important for me,” Seppi said.
The Frenchman Chardy stuck to his plan in taking down the big-serving del Potro.
“I decided tactic before the match,” he said. “Since the first point to the last point, I play exactly the same. I stay very calm, very focus…I play slice with my backhand and I try to play short slice because like this he has to come in the court. After, with my forehand, I can go full power.”
In other Top 10-seeded action, No. 3 Andy Murray handled Lithuania’s Ricardas Berankis 6-3, 6-4, 7-5; No. 7 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga cruised past Slovenia’s Blaz Kavcic 6-2, 6-1, 6-4, and No. 9 Richard Gasquet recovered from a slow start to defeat Croat Ivan Dodig 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(2), 6-0.
No. 13 Milos Raonic also topped No. 17 Philipp Kohlschreiber 7-6(4), 6-3, 6-4, and in the final match of the night, No. 14 Gilles Simon defeated French compatriot Gael “Force” Monfils 8-6 in the fifth.
Raonic said he had suffered a fever the previous two nights.
“I felt like my body was aching,” said the big Canuck. “I didn’t really feel like I was struggling with energy. I just felt like every type of ache I had was magnified.”
In ladies action on Saturday world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka had to turn back a stern challenge from Jamie Hampton, eventually defeating the young American 6-4, 4-6, 6-2.
In the second set Hampton took a medical time out, and in the third set was visibly bothered by injury.
“I have two herniated disks in my lower back,” Hampton said. “I just try to manage it on the court and slow down, take my time. When I got low it was really hurting, and there’s not really much you can do.”
Hampton was in control for the majority of the match against a player searching for her game.
“I don’t think it was the best performance, honestly, but in another way I can say I can play better, so that’s a positive note from there,� said Azarenka, reportedly now “coached” by the singer Redfoo, who she is also reportedly dating. She will next face Russian Elena Vesnina. “These kind of matches sometimes are more, brings better things for you in the future, because winning ugly, always means that you overcome something that you weren’t feeling great, you weren’t feeling all your shots.”
No. 3 seed Serena Williams continued her seemingly destined march to the championship with a 6-1, 6-3 victory over Japan’s Ayumi Morita, and No. 10 Caroline Wozniacki topped the Ukraine’s Lesia Tsurenko 6-4, 6-3.
Lulled to sleep by the quality of opponents during Week One, Serena now entertains herself by seeing how high she can hit on the serve radar speed gun, on Saturday topping out at 128.7mph.
“I tried to hit it really hard,” Williams said. “I hit 207 [kph] the other day and I thought it was luck. But I did it again and I was like ‘Whew!’ I’m going to try to go for 210 [kph].”
In other seeded action No. 29 seed Sloane Stephens defeated Brit Laura Robson 7-5, 6-3 to gain the fourth round, and No. 14 Maria Kirilenko beat No. 20 Yanina Wickmayer 7-6(4), 6-3.
Three unseeded players moved into the fourth round when Serb Bojana Jovanovski defeated Japan’s ageless Kimiko Date-Krumm 6-2, 7-6(3); Russian Elena Vesnina upset No. 16 Roberta Vinci 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-4; and former world No. 2 Svetlana Kuznetsova outlasted the backhand of Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro 6-2, 4-6, 6-3.
Stephens will next face Jovanovski.
“Honestly I haven’t played my best tennis,” the American said in Serena-like fashion. “But, I mean, sometimes it’s just going to be like that. Sometimes it’s going to be ugly and you just have to work your way through. It hasn’t been the prettiest, but mentally it’s been beautiful. I mean, that’s really all you can take from that.”
Unseeded for the first time at a Slam since 2003, Kuznetsova will next face the former No. 1 Wozniacki.
Matches to look for on Sunday in Melbourne in 4th round action include (5) Angelique Kerber vs. (19) Ekaterina Makarova, (4) David Ferrer vs. (16) Kei Nishikori, (2) Maria Sharapova vs. Kirsten Flipkens, (13) Ana Ivanovic vs. (4) Agnieszka Radwanska, (1) Novak Djokovic vs. (15) Stanislas Wawrinka, (6) Na Li vs. (18) Julia Goerges, and a battle of big serve in Kevin Anderson vs. (5) Tomas Berdych.
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