No. 17 seed Roger Federer delighted fans in the final night match at the Australian Open on Friday, upsetting No. 10 seed Tomas Berdych 6-2, 6-4, 6-4.
“Upset” may be a strong term for the sixth win in a row for the Swiss over the Czech, but in the end it was a remarkably easy victory for the 35-year-old who missed the Olympics, US Open and end months of 2016 to heal injury.
“I didn’t expect this as such, to be honest, especially not this kind of a scoreline,” said the four-time Australian Open champion. “Especially not having to save any break points, just always rolling on the serve. That was a big surprise to me. I think it was a great mental test for me to see if I could stay in the match — point for point. I was able to do that. That’s where I’m just really happy that I was able to deliver that.”
Federer, who received a standing ovation afterwards from the Aussie fans, will next meet No. 5 seed Kei Nishikori, who beat qualifier Lukas Lacko 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.
“For sure it’s not going to be easy [facing Federer],” Nishikori said. “He was playing great tennis today. I watched only a few points. But it’s always great to play Roger. It’s a big challenge for me. I’m just happy to play him because I think we needed him on the tour. I’m happy to see him back 100 percent.”
Federer has won four of his six meetings against Nishikori.
“I’m a big fan of his game,” Federer said. “He’s got one of the best backhands out there. I love how he can crush it down the line or crosscourt. He’s got wonderful second serve returns. He’s fast on his legs. Strong in his mind. I know how tough he is as the match goes along. He finds his range and his rhythm, he’s tough to stop.”
Brit Daniel Evans was also an upset winner on Friday, putting No. 27-seeded Aussie Bernard Tomic out of the tournament 7-5, 7-6(2), 7-6(3). His reward is a fourth-round meeting with No. 12 seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who beat No. 23 Jack Sock 7-6(4), 7-5, 6-7(8), 6-3.
World No. 1 Andy Murray continued his steady march through the draw, dismissing No. 31 Sam Querrey 6-4, 6-2, 6-4. He will next meet unseeded German Mischa Zverev, who beat Tunisia’s Malek Jaziri 6-1, 4-6, 6-3, 6-0.
“The start of the match was hard, Sam came out serving big,” Murray said. “He was really going for his shots. The end of that first set was important. He had a break point at 3-4. When I saved that and broke the next game, the momentum was with me. I started to serve a bit better and put a lot more returns back in play after that. I thought I moved much better today than I did in the first two matches, which is really positive for me.”
No. 4 Stanislas Wawrinka defeated No. 29 Viktor Troicki 3-6, 6-2, 6-2, 7-6(7), and in the fourth round he will meet the Kyrgios-killer Andreas Seppi, who edged Belgian Steve Darcis 4-6, 6-4, 7-6(1), 7-6(2).
Wawrinka failed to serve out the match twice, then closed it out in the fourth-set breaker.
“It was not always the best tennis, but I’m happy to won the match,” he said. “That’s all that counts. But tough conditions, quite windy, not easy to really play well, have a good rhythm.”
Saturday’s slate of highlight matches in Melbourne include (9) Rafael Nadal vs. (24) Alexander Zverev, (15) Grigor Dimitrov vs. (18) Richard Gasquet, (6) Gael Monfils vs. (32) Philipp Kohlschreiber, (20) Ivo Karlovic vs. (11) David Goffin, (3) Milos Raonic vs. (25) Gilles Simon, and the all-Spanish (13) Roberto Bautista Agut vs. (21) David Ferrer.
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