Four time former champion Roger Federer back after a six month injury layoff produced vintage tennis to see off a historically difficult opponent, Tomas Berdych, with the loss of only ten games on Day 5 at the Australian Open in Melbourne. Federer who has lost a few important matches to the tenth seeded Czech, in his career, first at the Greece Olympics in 2004, at Wimbledon in 2010 and then at the U.S. Open in 2012, barely showed any signs of rust as he won 6-2, 6-4, 6-4 in the final match of the evening session on Rod Laver Arena. Match lasted 90 minutes. Berdych led the ace count by 13-8, but did not have a single break point opportunity as Federer produced 40 winners.
Federer next faces the fifth seeded Kei Nishikori of Japan who easily defeated the qualifier Lukas Lacko of Slovakia 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 in two hours eleven minutes on the Margaret Court Arena. The top seeded Andy Murray was playing the American Sam Querrey in the afternoon session, the 31st seeded Querrey had beaten Novak Djokovic in the third round of Wimbledon 2016, but the five time finalist was in title winning form in his 6-4, 6-2, 6-4 in under two hours. Murray dropped his serve only once and next faces the German Mischa Zverev who had a four set 6-1, 4-6, 6-3, 6-0 win over Malek Jaziri of Tunisia.
Federer’s compatriot Stanislas Wawrinka, the 2014 champion, seeded fourth also staked his claim for a fourth major title with 3-6, 6-2, 6-2, 7-6(7) win over the 29th seeded Viktor Troicki of Serbia. He next faces the Italian Andreas Seppi of Italy, a 4-6, 6-4, 7-6(1), 7-6(2) winner over the veteran Belgian Steve Darcis.
The 2008 finalist Jo Wilfred Tsonga of France, seeded 12th, had a hard fought and gruelling 7-6(4), 7-5, 6-7(8), 6-3 win over the American Jack Sock also on the Margaret Court Arena in three hours and thirty three minutes. Sock, seeded 23rd was the last remaining American in the draw. About the only surprise of the day was the straight sets defeat of the last remaining Australian in the draw Bernard Tomic, who lost 5-7, 6-7(2), 6-7(3) to Daniel Evans of Great Britain. The 67th ranked Evans had reached the final (lost to Giles Muller of Luxembourg) in the warm up event in Sydney. He will next play Tsonga in the last sixteen.
Following is the line up in the bottom half of the draw in the round of 32 with my pick mentioned first:-
Denis Istomin (-) v. Pablo Carreno Busta (30)
Grigor Dmitrov (15) v. Richard Gasquet (18)
David Goffin (11) v. Ivo Karlovic (20)
Dominic Thiem (8) v. Benoit Paire
Milos Raonic (3) v. Gilles Simon (25)
Roberto Bautista Agut (13) v. David Ferrer
Rafael Nadal (9) v. Alexander Zverev
Gael Monfils (6) v. Phillip Kohlschreiber (32)
In the women’s section of the draw defending champion Angelique Kerber produced her best performance of the tournament with a 6-0, 6-4 win over Kristyna Pliskova of the Czech Republic and next faces the American Coco Vandeweghe who had a three set win over Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard 6-4, 3-6, 7-5. French Open champion Garbine Muguruza of Spain prevailed over the Latvian Anastasija Sevastova 6-4, 6-2, to set up a meeting against Sorana Cirstea of Romania who beat the American Alison Riske 6-2, 7-6(2).
Venus Williams, the no. 13 seed demolished China’s Ying-Ying Duan for the loss of just one game and goes on to meet the German Mona Barthel 6-4, 3-6, 6-3. The eight seeded Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova beat Jelena Jankovic of Serbia 6-4, 5-7, 9-7 and will clash against the Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova who was a 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 winner over the Ukrainian Elina Svitolina, the 11th seed.
– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy. You can reach him at the email: email@example.com]