Roger Federer claimed a Grand Slam milestone as he fought off the challenge of rising local star Bernard Tomic to join Andy Murray in the last 16 at the Australian Open on Saturday.
The Swiss 17-time major winner and second seed was pushed before clinching a 6-4, 7-6 (7/5), 6-1 victory over the 43rd-ranked Tomic in almost two hours on Rod Laver Arena. Federer was stretched at times in a compelling night match before becoming the first man to win 250 Grand Slam matches with his victory over Tomic to reach the fourth round in Melbourne for the 12th straight year.
The 31-year-old World No 2, who is chasing his fifth Australian crown, will now face big-serving Canadian 13th seed Milos Raonic in the round of 16
tomorrow. It was a much-improved performance from 20-year-old Tomic, who lost starry-eyed to Federer 6-2, 6-2, 6-4 in the fourth round at last year’s Australian Open.
“Overall we both played a great match, Bernard has had a great run and he really got the best out of me tonight, so I hope he can keep it up, I really wish him the best,” Federer said.
Tomic said: “I was pretty satisfied with my tennis. I was competing out there, trying to hang in there with him. He just came up with good stuff when he really needed it the most.”
British third seed Murray earlier marched on at the expense of his Lithuanian practice partner Ricardas Berankis 6-3, 6-4, 7-5. Murray, the reigning US Open champion, said he was looking to improve after his latest win.
“I’ve won in straight sets in my first three matches. I’m through to the fourth round having not having played my best tennis today. Hopefully I’ll improve for the next one,” he said. Murray will next play Gilles Simon, who came through after marathon five-setter with Gael Monfils.
Del Potro shocked
Meanwhile, former US Open champion Juan Martin Del Potro was the day’s shock big-name casualty after he lost 3-6, 3-6, 7-6 (7/3), 6-3, 3-6. The sixth seed crashed out to Frenchman Jeremy Chardy who will now face Italian 21st seed Andreas Seppi in an unexpected matchup. Seppi upset Croatian 12th seed Marin Cilic in another five-setter.