Tennis

Federer ready for Nishikori

Swiss great at his best in defeat of 10th seed Berdych

Swiss maestro Roger Federer sailed past long-time rival Tomas Berdych in straight sets to storm into the fourth round at the Australian Open yesterday.

The 17-time Grand Slam champion, seeded 17th after an injury-hit 2016, downed the 10th-seeded Czech 6-2, 6-4, 6-4 in 90 minutes.

Federer reached the Round of 16 in Melbourne for the 15th time where he will face Japanese fifth seed Kei Nishikori, who beat Slovakian qualifier Lukas Lacko 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.

Any concerns that Federer might be in for a tough night evaporated with a double service break to lead Berdych 5-2 in the opening set.

The 35-year-old Swiss continued to put on a tennis masterclass to leave the big Czech floundering.

Federer breezed through the opening set in 26 minutes, made it 2-0 another 31 minutes later and cruised through the final set in 33 minutes to complete an astonishing demolition of the Czech in 90 blistering minutes.

Federer broke Berdych's big serve four times and did not face one break-point on his own service, while hitting 40 winners against just 17 unforced errors.

"I always felt I lift my game against the higher-ranked players, but I didn't expect it to go this hard," said Federer, who is looking to become the third man to win five Australian Open singles titles after Novak Djokovic and Roy Emerson, who have both won six.

"I had no expectations really for tonight, but I did surprise myself."

On facing Nishikori in his next match, Federer said: "I guess I'm ready, there's no turning back now."

World No. 1 Andy Murray also put on a masterclass as he defeated Sam Querrey 6-4, 6-2, 6-4 in just under two hours, winning 77 per cent of points on his first serve and facing only three break-points in a clinical display.

KERBER FINDS RHYTHM

Querrey also upset Djokovic at Wimbledon last year but Murray, made a knight in Britain's New Year honours, never looked like slipping on any banana skins in round three.

The Scot also showed no signs of discomfort in his right ankle, after he rolled it painfully during his second-round win over Andrey Rublev.

"I felt better and better as the match went on in terms of my movement," he said.

"The ankle was a little sore and I was a little tentative at the start, but it got better and better through the match."

Murray next faces German Mischa Zverev and is on course to meet Federer in the quarter-finals.

Stan Wawrinka, the 2014 champion, survived a four-set tussle with Viktor Troicki 3-6, 6-2, 6-2, 7-6 (9/7) and now faces Italy's Andreas Seppi, who ousted Steve Darcis of Belgium.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga also came through in four sets against American Jack Sock and will play Briton Dan Evans, who beat Australia's Bernard Tomic 7-5, 7-6 (7/2), 7-6 (7/3).

In the women's draw, world No. 1 Angelique Kerber finally got into her stride with a 6-0, 6-4 destruction of Kristyna Pliskova, the 58th-ranked twin sister of Czech fifth seed Karolina.

The German defending champion was an early loser at both of her warm-up tournaments and was taken to three sets in unconvincing wins in round one and two.

But Kerber clicked into gear against Pliskova, winning in just 55 minutes to set up a last-16 clash with America's Coco Vandeweghe, who ousted Canadian starlet Eugenie Bouchard.

"I'm looking forward to the next one. Yeah, I find my rhythm to the tournament now," Kerber said.

Svetlana Kuznetsova outlasted fellow 30-something Jelena Jankovic 6-4, 5-7, 9-7 and will next play fellow Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

Venus Williams beat Duan Yingying 6-1, 6-0 to end Chinese interest, earning a match with German qualifier Mona Barthel who overcame Australia's Ashleigh Barty in three sets.

French Open champion Garbine Muguruza was a 6-4, 6-2 winner against Anastasija Sevastova, setting up an encounter with Romania's Sorana Cirstea. - WIRE SERVICES

AustraliatennisRoger Federer