Eight seeded matches, and eight seeded winners without upsets were featured Friday at the Australian Open, where title contenders Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer put potentially tough opponents in their place.
The world No. 1 Djokovic defeated No. 28 seed Andreas Seppi, who last year upset Federer in Melbourne, 6-1, 7-5, 7-6(6).
“It’s not easy to stay with him on the baseline, you know,” said Djokovic who was made to work in the second and third sets. “So I think that I started very well. A set and then a couple of breakpoints early in the second. Didn’t use that. He started serving well. I backed up half a step back. He started playing more aggressive tennis. Not as many unforced errors. I think I served my way out of trouble several times.”
He will next meet No. 14 Gilles Simon, who was a 6-3, 6-2, 6-1 winner against Agentina’s Federico Delbonis.
The No. 3-seeded Federer defeated the player once known as “Baby Fed,” until his career stalled outside the Top 10. The Swiss in four sets defeated No. 27 seed Grigor Dimitrov 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4.
“Conditions, again, were very different indoors than they were against Dolgopolov in the second round,” said Federer, who sent Not-Baby-Fed to his seventh straight loss against a Top 10 player, playing under the closed roof. “Even night session plays different. Just got to manage these conditions a bit. I’m pleased. Wasn’t easy. I didn’t expect it to be against Grigor. It was a tough round, so I’m happy.”
Federer will next meet No. 15-seeded Belgian David Goffin, who topped No. 19 Dominic Thiem 6-1, 3-6, 7-6(2), 7-5.
Also among the Top 10 winners were No. 6 Tomas Berdych shutting down the combustible No. 29 seed Nick Kyrgios 6-3, 6-4, 1-6, 6-4; No. 7 Kei Nishikori defeating No. 26 Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 7-5, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4; and No. 9 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga edging unseeded Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert 6-4, 7-6(7), 7-6(4).
Berdych remained calm and composed while Kyrgios, who raced to a 6-1 third-set win, was seemingly rattled by every potential distraction, including at one point music that could be heard from another court.
Tsonga and Nishikori will next meet, and Berdych will take on No. 24 seed Roberto Bautista Agut, who on Friday upset No. 12 Marin Cilic 6-4, 7-6(5), 7-5.
“Every time we played, it was a good fight,” Tsonga said of Nishikori. “We have a different style. Anyway, yeah, it’s going to be good I think — for spectator, for sure. For us, we’ll see. But anyway, I’m ready to battle.”
The eight matches on Saturday in Melbourne will be (4) Stan Wawrinka vs. Lukas Rosol, (16) Bernard “The Tank Engine” Tomic vs. John Millman in an all-Aussie, (13) Milos Raonic vs. (21) Viktor Troicki, (2) Andy Murray vs. (32) Joao Sousa, (10) John Isner vs. (18) Feliciano “F-Lo” Lopez, (23) Gael “Force” Monfils vs. Stephane Robert in an all-French, (8) David Ferrer vs. (31) Steve Johnson, and Dudi “Where’s My Car?” Sela vs. Andrey Kuznetsov.
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