Roger Federer set up an intriguing clash with cocky young Australian Bernard Tomic as title rival Andy Murray booked a straightforward passage into the Australian Open third round yesterday.
The Swiss world No. 2 again mastered old rival Nikolay Davydenko in three sets to confirm his matchup with big-talking Tomic, 20, in the last 32 tomorrow.
The record 17-time Grand Slam champion had few problems with the 40th-ranked Russian, winning 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 in 1 hour, 59 minutes in a night match on Rod Laver Arena.
Federer stretched his record over Davydenko to 18-2 with a dominant performance containing three service breaks from 13 break point opportunities.
Gael Monfils improbably advanced with a five-set win over Taiwan’s Lu Yen-hsun, despite the Frenchman having 23 double faults, including three on match point. Fortunately, Monfils also had 29 aces in the 7-6 (7/5), 4-6, 0-6, 6-1, 8-6 win.
Murray mercifully kept it short, as Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Tomic were made to sweat it out to the third round.
On the hottest day so far at the Grand Slam, with temperatures hitting 41oC, iced towels and water bottles were in big demand with the players.
British third seed and reigning US Open champion Murray was impressive in conceding just eight games as he put away 100th-ranked Portuguese Joao Sousa, 6-2, 6-2, 6-4 in 1 hour, 41 minutes at Hisense Arena.
Murray, twice a runner-up at the Australian Open, will have his hitting partner, Lithuanian qualifier Ricardas Berankis, as his next opponent in the last 32.
Yesterday, Murray was too hot to handle, breaking Sousa’s service five times without facing a break point.
It was his sixth consecutive match victory this season, after he beat Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov to win his 25th career title at the Brisbane International.
Tsonga and Tomic were kept on court for longer than they wanted under the broiling sun.
Frenchman Tsonga, a runner-up here five years ago, was made to toil hard in the heat for his 6-3, 7-6 (7/1), 6-3 win over Japan’s 73rd-ranked Go Soeda in 2 hours, 3 minutes on Margaret Court Arena.
Seventh-seeded Tsonga is to face unseeded Slovenian Blaz Kavcic, who took almost five hours before overcoming Australian James Duckworth 10-8 in the fifth set.
Tomic secured a 6-7 (4/7), 7-5, 7-6 (7/3), 7-6 (10/8) win in 2 hours, 55 minutes to reach the third round and continue his unbeaten start to the year, after claiming his first tour title at the Sydney International.
Elsewhere, former US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro bludgeoned a 6-2, 6-4, 6-2 win over German Benjamin Becker.
Croatia’s 12th seed Marin Cilic, a semi-finalist three years ago, beat US qualifier Rajeev Ram in straight sets, German seed Philipp Kohlschreiber won in three sets and Frenchman Jeremy Chardy knocked out Spanish 30th seed Marcel Granollers in four sets.
Big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic fired 18 aces in his straight-sets win over the Czech Republic’s Lukas Rosol, while Italian 21st seed Andreas Seppi prevailed over Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin in five sets.
On the women’s side, former US Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova beat Taiwan’s 26th-seeded Hsieh Su-wei 6-2, 6-1.
Serena Williams went into yesterday’s match with an injured right ankle. She did not seem troubled by the injury, but did finish with a swollen lip after hitting herself with her racket.
“It’s OK,” she said. “It’s a war wound. I think it happens to everyone, but I have never busted it wide open like that.”
Williams lifted her tempo on the biggest points, including when she finally won an 18 minute game to open the second set en route to a 6-2, 6-0 win over Garbine Muguruza.
She later combined with sister Venus to win in the first round of doubles, showing no signs of trouble with the ankle.
The top-ranked Victoria Azarenka pranced into Rod Laver Arena for the first match of the day, and said she is starting to find some rhythm after beating Eleni Daniilidou 6-1, 6-0 in 55 minutes.
“I felt like I’m back into the competitive mode,” Azarenka said.
The No. 94-ranked Daniilidou only won 10 points in the first set and was shut out in the second despite having triple break point in the fourth game.
The heat did not seem to bother 42-year-old Kimiko Date-Krumm, who advanced 6-2, 7-5 over Shahar Peer of Israel. Date-Krumm became the oldest woman to win a singles match at the Australian Open.
Other women advancing included former No. 1-ranked Caroline Wozniacki, No. 14 Maria Kirilenko, No. 16 Roberta Vinci, No. 20 Yanina Wickmayer and Elena Vesnina, who beat No. 21-seeded Varvara Lepchenko of the US 6-4, 6-2.