Australian Open: Novak Djokovic powers into Round 4
Melbourne: Top seed Novak Djokovic powered into the fourth round at the Australian Open on the back of a potent service game to oust Spain's tenacious Fernando Verdasco on Saturday in what he said was a big confidence booster.
Novak Djokovic reacts during his match against Fernando Verdasco. Pic/AFP
The Serb World No 1 beat the 31st seeded Verdasco 7-6 (10/8), 6-3, 6-4 in 2hr 21min and will play Luxembourg's Gilles Muller for a place in the quarter-final.
Djokovic, who is the strengthening favourite for his fifth Australian Open title following Roger Federer's shock exit in Friday's third round, made just two service breaks in a tight contest on Rod Laver Arena.
The Australian Open is his most successful major and he said he used the memories of playing so successfully in Melbourne to his advantage. "It's a great confidence booster if you are on the court if you have great memories and you won the tournament four times," he said.
"It's not any tournament. It's a Grand Slam, one of the four most important events in our sport. I'm always trying to have that in the back of my mind, the great performances I had over the years. I try to use that in my advantage."
Serving a storm
Djokovic's serving was a feature, winning 82 percent of his first serves. Verdasco, who had beaten Djokovic in four of their previous 10 encounters, failed to get a service break in the Serb's 16 service games. "I thought I served very well, allowed myself to have a lot of free points in the first serve," Djokovic said.
Switzerland's defending champion Wawrinka, who beat Rafael Nadal in the final last year, stayed on track with a 6-4, 6-2, 6-4 drubbing of Finland's Jarkko Nieminen. The Swiss, who was always in control, was pleased with his progress so far.
"It's been three really good matches, I think my game is there and I'm really happy to get through again," said Wawrinka, who will now meet Spain's Guillermo Garcia-Lopez.