Highlights from the sixth day of Australian Open 2013 at Melbourne Park...
Simply the best
Was pretty much the way that Bernard Tomic described Roger Federer as the No.2 seed dealt the Australian up and comer another lesson in winning beautifully. Federer barely put a foot wrong on Rod Laver Arena on Saturday night, allowing Tomic three more games than he had at this juncture a year ago, but still, never looking remotely like losing.
One break of serve was all that was needed in the first set, in the second, Federer recovered from 1-4 and then 2-5 to win the tie-break 7-5, and in the third, he opened the throttle. It was a good match, so he said. Milos Raonic, the big-serving Canadian, is next. Another future start trying to de-rail the star of the past and present.
Gilles Simon and Gael Monfils are known for their entertaining tennis. But the manner in which they enthralled the Hisense Arena crowd on Saturday night wasn’t quite what was expected. With Simon unable to move and Monfils unable to hit, it was a recipe for one foot in front of the other. Which they did. For nearly five hours. The longest rally of the match reached 71 shots, and their rallies regularly exceeded 20 shots or more.
‘I was exhausted after the second set,’ Simon said at the end, winning 8-6 in the fifth while looking like crying, dying and throwing up, all at the same time. The Frenchman was later spotted manoeuvring his way around Melbourne Park on the arm of a helper, holding the wall for balance. He had refused a wheelchair.
Simon’s reward? Andy Murray in the fourth round. He laughed.
Victoria Azarenka. The world No.1 was put through the mill by another American up and comer, albeit not in age, Jamie Hampton, who played out of her adidas socks to give the world No.1 plenty to think about. Azarenka lead 5-1 before Hampton came battling back, and although Azarenka held onto the first set, the American won the second, despite receiving treatment on her back just before serving it out.
Going a break up on Azarenka in the third, was Hampton on the verge of an infamous upset? Sadly, she didn’t win another game, but certainly gave the world No.1 plenty to think about. She went straight to the practice court afterwards.
Hampton later revealed that she has two herniated discs in her lower back, diagnosed at the French Open last year. You don’t need me to tell you that’s not a good thing for a tennis player.
Another player who hit the practice courts straight after her match was Svetlana Kuznetsova, who beat Carla Suarez Navarro in three tough sets, and then went to work on her forehand. Kuznetsova is looking more relaxed and comfortable than she has in some time. Which is worrying for Caroline Wozniacki, her next opponent.
The same was also true of another Russian, Maria Kirilenko, who defeated an improved Yanina Wickmayer in three sets. Serena is next for Kirilenko, who will attempt to win a first match against the American in their sixth meeting.
And finally, Richard Gasquet won a match he should have done, and then described it as ‘tres mal.’ The Frenchman took four sets to beat Ivan Dodig and reach the fourth round, where he will meet compatriot Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
The hard work done against Petra Kvitova, it was all too easy to write Laura Robson into the fourth round. But her opponent in Sloane Stephens was not to be trifled with. And so it proved, Robson hampered by shoulder trouble, and Stephens by contrast skipping around Show Court 2 happily. The American won 7-5, 6-3 in just under two hours, and advances to a fourth round against Bojana Jovanovski. The winner will likely get Serena Williams. Tantalising.
Jovanovski’s passage through was achieved by finally ending the Kimiko Date-Krumm fairytale, 6-2, 7-6(3), the oldest competitor at the Australian Open running out of steam against her much younger Serbian tournament. But still. What a tournament it has been for the 42-year-old. And she’s still in the doubles.
Andy Murray and Serena Williams were both forced into rather tougher situations than they’ve had to date, Murray coming through against Ricardas Berankis in three, Serena seeing off Ayumi Morita in two. The two US Open champions dropped serve and looked a little grumpy, only to recover. The fourth round beckons.
Caroline Wozniacki was possibly the quietest winner of the day, her 6-4, 6-3 win over qualifier Lesia Tsurenko going quite un-noticed, while Jo-Wilfried Tsonga hardly scratched the surface to win 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 against Blaz Kavcic.
At one point, sixth seed Juan Martin Del Potro was so deflated by his match against Jeremy Chardy that he threw his arm around a line judge at the back of the court, desperately in need of a hug. The Argentine found himself trailing the flamboyant Frenchman by 0 sets to two, a deficit he has never recovered from in a Grand Slam situation. And, heartbreakingly, Del Potro battled his way back, winning the next two, only to lose in five, 3-6, 3-6, 7-6, 6-3, 5-7. He is the highest seed so far to tumble. Chardy will play Andreas Seppi, who also upset a seed in Marin Cilic, in five sets.
In the women’s, 16th seed Roberta Vinci was sent tumbling by relative veteran Elena Vesnina, who beat the Italian 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-4. Back to doubles for Roberta. Vesnina meanwhile gets top seed Azarenka.
They said it
“I started to think after they mentioned all these Grand Slams leading up, Wimbledon champion seven times, US Open champion. The I was, Oh crap, it’s Roger. I try to block out who’s on the other side of the net but couldn’t quite do it after that announcement.”
Bernard Tomic on playing Roger Federer.
Coming up on Sunday
Rod Laver Arena
11am Angelique Kerber  v Ekaterina Makarova 
FB David Ferrer  v Kei Nishikori 
FB Kirsten Flipkens v Maria Sharapova 
7pm Ana Ivanovic  v Agnieszka Radwanska 
FB Novak Djokovic  v Stanislas Wawrinka 
11am Mike & Bob Bryan  v Jeremy Chardy & Lukasz Kubot
FB Nicolas Almagro  v Janko Tipsarevic 
FB Li Na  v Julia Goerges 
Margaret Court Arena
NB 12.30pm Sara Errani & Roberta Vinci  v Peng Shuai & Su-Wei Hsieh 
FB Serena & Venus Williams  v Nadia Petrova & Katarina Srebotnik 
NB 5pm Kevin Anderson v Tomas Berdych 
For all the reports and results from Melbourne Park, visit the Official Australian Open website
20:08It brings me no pleasure but it's time to bring the curtain down for another year. Seemed somehow appropriate to leave the last word to Roger Federer. Thanks a billion for reading. What a fortnight, what a final, fast forward to 2015 please...
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