If the women’s side at the Australian Open has been a bubbling cauldron of uncertainty, injuries and upsets, the men’s side has been a peaceful stroll through the Aussie bush collecting flowers and occasionally stopping to solo on the didgeridoo.
There were no seeded upsets on Wednesday in Melbourne in 16 matches. All 14 seeds in action moving into the third round, some exuding far less effort than others.
In the former category put all five Top 10 seeds who on Wednesday failed to drop a set.
Top-seeded Novak Djokovic led the way with a 6-1, 6-2, 7-6(3) win over France’s unheralded Quentin Halys, joined by No. 3 Roger Federer navigating a tricky match with pal Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-3, 7-5, 6-1; No. 6 Tomas Berdych strolling past Mirza Basic 6-4, 6-0, 6-3; No. 7 Kei Nishikori working past his American friend from their junior days Austin Krajicek 6-3, 7-6(5), 6-3; and No. 9 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga topping Aussie Omar Jasika 7-5, 6-1, 6-4.
“Third set was a close set,” Djokovic said after subduing the French teen Halys. “Was a battle. Credit to him for fighting, for serving well. We got to a tiebreak where I held my nerves and played a solid tennis. He’s a powerful player, big forehand. He’s being aggressive every time he had an opportunity.”
Djokovic will next meet No. 28 seed Andreas Seppi, who defeated Denis Kudla 7-5, 6-4, 6-4, and last year stunned Federer in Melbourne.
Federer for his part tapped into his off-season training, which included practices with Dolgopolov, to handle “The Dog.”
“I’m a big fan of his game,” said Federer of Dolgopolov. “He’s explosive; got a great return, especially on the second serve. He’s got all the shots. Just for him it’s managing how to use what at what time. I’m very pleased with this win. I think it’s a tough second round. In my opinion, he’s better than a lot of the guys who are ranked ahead of him.”
The Swiss will next prepare for a tough third round against No. 27 seed Grigor “Baby Fed” Dimitrov, who on Wednesday got past Argentine Marco Trungelliti 6-3, 4-6, 6-2, 7-5.
Other seeded victors into the third round were No. 12 Marin Cilic, No. 14 Gilles Simon who needed five sets to beat Russian Evgeny Donskoy, No. 15 David Goffin, No. 19 Dominic Thiem easily over Spanish veteran Nicolas Almagro, No. 24 Roberto Bautista Agut 6-1 in the fifth over Serb Dusan Lajovic, No. 26 Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, and Aussie No. 20 seed Nick Kyrgios in straights over Uruguay’s Pablo Cuevas.
Kyrgios will next try and keep “Bad Nick” under wraps in a meeting with the No. 6 seed Berdych.
“I know what he’s capable of,” the Aussie said. “He’s one of the best players in the world. I’ve played him a couple times. He’s going to be wanting to win as much as I’m going to be wanting to win, so it’s going to be tough.”
In all-unseeded highlights, France’s Pierre-Hugues Herbert bageled American wildcard and Benoit-killer Noah Rubin 6-3, 6-4, 6-0 to advance into the third round.
Intriguing matches are all over the Melbourne grounds on Thursday, including (2) Andy “I’ll Bail If My Wife Goes Into Labor” Murray vs. Aussie big-server Sam Groth, (8) David Ferrer vs. Lleyton Hewitt in Hewitt’s possible swan song, (23) Gael “Force” Monfils vs. Nicolas Mahut in an all-French, (16) Bernard “I’ve Got a Good Draw” Tomic vs. Italian Simone Bolelli, (4) Stan Wawrinka vs. Radek “The Worm” Stepanek, (13) Milos Raonic vs. Spanish veteran Tommy Robredo, and (25) Jack Sock vs. upset expert Lukas Rosol.
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