World No. 2 Roger Federer and Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic each stormed into the fourth round in Indian Wells with lopsided victories on Tuesday.
Ice-cool Federer, in pursuit of a record fourth Indian Wells title, swept past Argentina’s Juan Ignacio Chela 6-0, 6-2, while Serb Djokovic extended his perfect record this season to 14-0 by pulverizing Ernests Gulbis 6-0, 6-1.
Chela was broken five times by Federer in dazzling sunshine at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, where temperatures peaked at 32oC, as the Swiss master eased to a commanding victory in 58 minutes.
“I’m happy it went so well today,” the 16-time Grand Slam champion told reporters after ending the match with a rasping backhand winner down the line. “The opening first couple of games were kind of tough. I was able to move him around, I thought. Then I was able to mix it up and I think I took his options away a bit, and then his serve kind of went away and I was able to find a way to outmaneuver him. At the end, it was a great match — for me, anyway.”
The Swiss, who claimed a hat-trick of titles at Indian Wells from 2004, will next meet wild-card Ryan Harrison of the US, the 18-year-old having clawed his way past Canadian prospect Milos Raonic 7-6 (7/1), 4-6, 6-4.
Djokovic, seemingly in a rush to reach his third consecutive final this year, broke an error-prone Gulbis three times in the opening set and twice in the second to steamroll to victory in just under an hour.
The stands surrounding the showpiece stadium court for the first match of the day were barely a quarter full when the third-seeded Serb ending a one-sided contest with successive aces.
“I cannot ask for a better start to the year,” world No. 3 Djokovic said after beating the Latvian for a fourth time in five meetings. “The last three months have been unbelievable. I’m just building up on that confidence and continuing to play well. I have been playing great tennis, the best tennis of my life.”
Djokovic, who claimed his second Grand Slam crown at the Australian Open in January and his 20th ATP World Tour title at last month’s Dubai championships, was in imperious form against Gulbis.
Hitting his ground-strokes crisply from behind the baseline, he swept through the first set in only 26 minutes and then broke his 31st-seeded opponent for a fourth time early in the second to tighten his grip.
When Gulbis held serve for the only time in the match to trail 1-3 after a Djokovic forehand sailed wide, the crowd erupted with cheers and whistles in a bid to give the hapless Latvian a lift.
However, Djokovic broke Gulbis again in the seventh game, before serving out to seal the win.
Djokovic will next meet 16th-seeded fellow Serb Viktor Troicki, who eased past 24th-seeded Frenchman Michael Llodra 6-3, 6-3.
In other matches, seventh-seeded Czech Tomas Berdych crushed Thomaz Bellucci of Brazil 6-3, 6-2 and 18th seed Richard Gasquet of France upset 10th-seeded Austrian Juergen Melzer 6-1, 6-3.
Eighth seed Andy Roddick, the runner-up last year, overpowered fellow American John Isner 7-5, 6-2 in an evening match-up between two big servers.