Federer set for tougher tests after routine wins

Four-time champion Roger Federer coasted into the last 16 of the Australian Open on Saturday before admitting that the hard work starts now.

The sixth-seeded Swiss crushed Russia's Teymuraz Gabashvili 6-2 6-2 6-3 in one hour and 41 minutes to make it through to the last 16 of a grand slam without dropping a set for the 27th time in his career.

Federer was barely troubled by Gabashvili, the world number 79, and though he knows he needs to lift his game, is happy with his form.

"I'm happy that from my side I'm winning my matches in straight sets," said Federer. "It's been different conditions every match: the heat first and the indoor match and now normal conditions today with a bit of wind. So it's just good to get through and get a good feel out there and make sure if you've got a chance to win your matches easier to do so. That's what I was able to do today, so I'm pleased."

Federer is through to the fourth round in Melbourne for the 13th year in a row. He has a tournament-best 71-10 event record, winning the title in 2004 (d. Safin), 2006 (d. Baghdatis), 2007 (d. Gonzalez) and 2010 (d. Murray). He has lost in the semi-finals the past three years.

In his first meeting since 2007 with Gabashvili, Federer saved the five break points he faced and broke the Russian five times from 14 opportunities. "I had to work for it," said Federer. "Once I got the lead, then I was able to stretch. It was an interesting match. I had to defend much more than I had to in my previous match. Of course it was a totally different opponent, but I think it was, in a way, a tricky match today."

Federer, next plays the 10th seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who the Swiss beat over five tough sets in the Australian Open quarter-finals last year.

"This is clearly a tough draw," he told reporters. "But the important thing now for me is just that I keep playing well and I don't go crazy about who I play now.

"It's just now up to me to bring it in the next match."

Only two of Federer's record 17 grand slam titles have come in the past four years, in Australia in 2010 and at Wimbledon in 2012.

The Swiss has made a habit of demolishing his opponents in the early stages and said the move from 16 to 32 seeds may have helped his cause.

"I have had tough draws throughout my career, not every time, but in many tournaments. So I remember tough draws in early rounds," he said.

"With the 32 seeds it's a bit more predictable, a lot more predictable actually.

"That's one of the reasons I think I have always been able to go deep in slams, especially once I was able to be seeded. I took advantage of that."

Date: 18th January 2014, Source: Reuters and ATP


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