Thursday 24 August 2017 / 07:24 AM

FLAWLESS FEDERER HEADLINES DAY 5 VICTORS

Perfect? Flawless? Perhaps the only two words to describe what the crowd saw on Friday night.

In what was supposed to be Roger Federer’s first real test of this year’s Australian Open, the Swiss maestro wound the clock back with a masterclass performance in beating Tomas Berdych.

Federer was simply in the zone under the Rod Laver Arena roof, hitting 40 winners to 17 unforced errors in his 6-2 6-4 6-4 win. The four-time champion at Melbourne Park won a staggering 95% of first-serve points, dominating from the outset and making the 10th-seeded Czech seem like an amateur.

But Berdych’s numbers were far from poor – he hit 26 winners to 14 unforced errors.

“Crazy how quick I got out of the blocks — I did surprise myself,” Federer, who broke in the opening games of both the second set and third set in the 90-minute beatdown.

Federer will next take on world No.5 Kei Nishikori, whom he leads 4-2 in head-to-head meetings.

World No.1 Andy Murray made the last 16 after a comfortable win over Sam Querrey. With six-time champion Novak Djokovic’s shock exit yesterday, Murray now becomes the tournament favourite after five previous defeats in the final – four of those to Djokovic.

The Briton started well, breaking Querrey’s serve with a majestic lob in game nine of set one before dominating the second. There was a minor hiccup early in set three when Murray let slip a break lead but pushed back into top gear for a 6-4 6-2 6-4 win.

The 29-year-old was joined in the fourth round by Davis Cup teammate Dan Evans, who backed up his shock upset of Marin Cilic with a win over home hope Bernard Tomic in three quality sets.

Stan Wawrinka recovered from a poor start to beat Serbian Victor Troicki. At one stage, the three-time major winner was down a set and 0-2 before reeling off six straight games to level the match. Wawrinka dominated the third set but twice failed to serve out the match in set four before eventually edging a tense tiebreak.

2008 runner up Jo-Wilfried Tsonga had a hard-fought win over Jack Sock. In a matchup of two heavyweight hitters, the French 12th seed took the opening set in a tiebreak and got the first break in the 11th game of set two. A comeback looked possible when Sock saved two match points in the third-set breaker to push it into a fourth set. But Tsonga wrapped it up 7-6 7-5 6-7 6-3.

Defending champion Angelique Kerber dusted off some early-round cobwebs by sweeping past Kristyna Pliskova 6-0 6-4. The world No.1 had to grind through three setters in her previous two matches.

In an even more dominant display, Venus Williams advanced 6-1 6-0 in just 58 minutes over China’s Ying-Ying Duan.

The day’s early play saw three women’s matches all go the distance. Coco Vandeweghe, with 40 winners, won 7-5 in the third over 2014 semifinalist Eugenie Bouchard.

“I was thinking I was doing more damage off of the second serve against her. She wasn’t handling my kick serve that well, especially later in the match,” Vandeweghe said after the match.

Svetlana Kuznetsova ground out a marathon three-and-a-half hour win over former world No.1 Jelena Jankovic. The eighth-seeded Russian will next face compatriot Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, whose power game marginally outclassed the athletic and counter-punching Elina Svitolina.

Local favourite Ashley Barty also bowed out of the women’s draw, going down in three sets to Mona Barthel.

[YouTube – Australian Open TV]

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Farhan Shah

A recent addition to the roster, Melburnian Farhan is a sports nut who has come on board to provide golf, tennis, AFL and rugby league coverage for CBS.

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