Djokovic, Kerber and Federer all go through in Melbourne
Former champion Novak Djokovic added an apparent muscle strain in his lower back to concerns about his problem elbow but still overpowered Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-2 6-3 6-3 to reach the fourth round of the Australian Open on Saturday (January 20).
After holding serve to lead 2-1 in the second set, the 14th seed took a medical time-out and lay down on Margaret Court Arena as a trainer worked feverishly on his lower back.
The injury did little to restrict the six-times champion Serb as he returned to break the 21st seed in the next game before rolling on to a fuss-free victory in two hours and 21 minutes.
Djokovic will face South Korea’s young gun Chung Hyeon in an intriguing intergenerational battle for a place in the quarter-finals.
Germany’s Angelique Kerber, the 2016 winner in Melbourne, delivered a superb performance to beat Maria Sharapova 6-1 6-3 in the third round.
Kerber, seeded 21st, needed a little more than an hour to see off the 2008 champion, breaking Sharapova’s serve five times.
Roger Federer eased into the second week of the Australian Open with a 6-2 7-5 6-4 win over Richard Gasquet that kept the Swiss on course for a 20th grand slam title.
The 36-year-old defending champion reached the fourth round of the Melbourne Park tournament for the 16th time by shifting up the gears when required to see off his French opponent in just under two hours on Rod Laver Arena.
Gasquet played a solid match, studded with his trademark occasional moments of shot-making brilliance, but that was never enough to overcome one of the best players of all time.
Watched from the stands by 11-times grand slam champion Laver, second seed Federer sealed the victory with a backhand winner to set up a first career meeting with Hungarian Marton Fucsovics for a place in the quarter-finals.
Big-serving Czech Tomas Berdych fired 20 aces in a 6-3 6-3 6-2 victory over Argentine Juan Martin del Potro in the third round.