Melbourne, Australia (Sports Network) - Top seed and two-time defending
champion Novak Djokovic advanced to the fourth round at the Australian Open on
The three-time overall Aussie Open titlist became the first man to reach the
round of 16 at this 2013 fortnight with a 6-4, 6-3, 7-5 victory over Czech
Davis Cup hero Radek Stepanek at Rod Laver Arena.
"Well, yes, definitely," Djokovic said when asked if this was his toughest
match thus far. "I mean, I wasn't expecting an easy match coming into the
third round and playing a seeded player; somebody that has a lot of experience
playing on the tour."
The Serbian star broke the 31st-seeded Stepanek once in each set and
fired 37 winners en route to victory.
Djokovic, who also won the title at Melbourne Park in 2008, is bidding to
become the first three-peat champion in the Open Era at this Grand Slam event.
He will next play Swiss slugger Stanislas Wawrinka, the 15th seed
who straight-setted 20th-seeded American Sam Querrey, 7-6 (8-6), 7-5, 6-4. The
6-foot-6 Querrey was the last American standing in the men's draw.
Meanwhile, gritty fourth-seeded Spaniard David Ferrer, fresh off his title in
Auckland last week, whipped 28th-seeded former Aussie Open runner-up Marcos
Baghdatis 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 and fifth-seeded former Wimbledon runner-up Tomas
Berdych trounced helpless 26th-seeded Austrian left-hander Jurgen Melzer 6-3,
Up next for Ferrer will be 16th-seeded rising Japanese Kei Nishikori, while
the formidable Czech Berdych will meet tall South African Kevin Anderson in
the fourth round.
Other winners Friday were Djokovic's eighth-seeded countryman Janko
Tipsarevic, 10th-seeded Spaniard Nicolas Almagro, Nishikori and Anderson.
Tipsarevic rallied to beat 32nd-seeded Frenchman Julien Benneteau 3-6,
6-4, 2-6, 6-4, 6-3 and reach the fourth round Down Under for the first time
in his career. In doing so, he joined Djokovic as the second Serb to reach
the round of 16 at all four major events.
Up next for Tipsarevic, who improved to an impressive 17-8 in his career
five-set matches, will be Almagro. The sweet-swinging Spaniard topped
towering 24th-seeded Pole Jerzy Janowicz 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (7-4), 6-1.
Nishikori advanced with a 7-6 (7-3), 6-2, 6-3 triumph over Russian Evgeny
Donskoy. Last year, Nishikori became the first Japanese man to reach the
quarterfinals at Melbourne Park in the Open Era.
Anderson, meanwhile, fought back to oust 22nd-seeded Spanish southpaw
Fernando Verdasco 4-6, 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (7-4), 6-2. Anderson is the first
South African man to reach the fourth round at a Grand Slam since Wayne
Ferreira reached the 2003 Aussie Open semifinals.
The Sports Network