Stroll in the park for the big guns as Tomic shines

Tennis Australian Open: Federer, Nadal ease into fourth round

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal starred for the old establishment in a daytime double-feature at the Australian Open on Friday before two rising talents threatened to steal the show with a thrilling tussle under the bright lights of Rod Laver Arena.

smashing win: Julia Goerges of Germany is ecstatic after defeating Italian Romina Oprandi in the third round of the Australian Open on Friday. AFP

Federer felled towering Croat Ivo Karlovic to follow Nadal into the last 16 and stay on collision course for a mouth-watering semifinal against the Spaniard who eased past Slovakian Lukas Lacko.

The real drama came later, however, when young home favourite Bernard Tomic edged a five-set classic against Ukraine's Alexandr Dolgopolov to justify his prime-time billing.
After three hours and 49 minutes of tension-charged action, the rangy 19-year-old with nerves of steel emerged with a 4-6, 7-6, 7-6, 2-6, 6-3 victory and the prospect of a fourth round battle with Federer.

On a day of almost total dominance for the seeds, 2009 champion Nadal raised the curtain at Rod Laver Arena with a 6-2, 6-4, 6-2 drubbing of Lacko.

Arriving in Melbourne with questions about his form, fitness and motivation, Nadal has not lost a set so far and never appeared in danger against his 119th-ranked opponent under overcast skies on centre court. Nadal will now face fellow Spaniard Feliciano Lopez in the fourth round.

Lopez outlasted towering marathon-man John Isner in a five-set duel, the American's second in a row at the tournament, to leave the US without a single man in the last 16 of the Australian Open for the first time since 1973.

Third seed Federer achieved the seemingly impossible when he managed to salvage a set point with a winning lob over the 2.08M beanpole Karlovic who had briefly threatened the Swiss with a barrage of booming serves.

With Karlovic leading 6-5 in the first set tiebreak, Federer's lob from just in front of the net pinged off the top of Karlovic's racket allowing the Swiss maestro to save the set and roll on to emphatic 7-6, 7-5, 6-3 victory.

With Rod Laver Arena hogged by the men's contenders, Caroline Wozniacki's battle for credibility as the world number one continued on the second show court against 31st seed Monica Niculescu.

Dane Wozniacki needs at least one more win in Melbourne to have a chance of emerging from the year's first grand slam at the top of the women's rankings, a position she has held for 67 of the last 68 weeks despite not winning a grand slam title.

With three other players having a chance to snatch the top ranking after the dust settles at Melbourne Park, the Dane signalled she would not give up the prize without a fight as she steamrolled the Romanian 6-2 6-2 in 76 minutes. Wozniacki will play Serb Jelena Jankovic. Defending champion Kim Clijsters marched on with a 6-3, 6-2 romp over Slovakian Daniela Hantuchova.

The Belgian, soaking up her valedictory year on tour, faces a re-match of last year's final with French Open champion Li Na in the next round, after the Chinese advanced when her opponent Anabel Medina Garrigues retired in tears with injury.

Garrigues's right ankle rolled underneath her while trailing 2-0 in the first set and the Spaniard had to be helped off. After lengthy treatment she returned to play another game before pulling out.

Victoria Azarenka, one of the three plotting a coup against Wozniacki, maintained the heat on the Dane with a comfortable 6-2, 6-4 victory over Germany's Mona Barthel.
Former US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro moved quietly into the fourth round with a straight-sets win over Taiwan's Lu Yen-Hsun.

Important results (all third round, prefix denotes seeding):

Men’s singles: Bernard Tomic (Aus) bt 13-Alexandr Dolgopolov (Ukr) 4-6, 7-6 (7-0), 7-6 (8-6), 2-6, 6-3; 11-Juan Martin Del Potro (Arg) bt Lu Yen-Hsun (Tai) 6-2, 6-3, 6-0; 18-Feliciano Lopez (Esp) bt 16-John Isner (US) 6-3, 6-7 (3-7), 6-4, 6-7 (0-7), 6-1; 10-Nicolas Almagro (Esp) bt 21-Stanislas Wawrinka (Sui) 7-6 (7-2), 6-2, 6-4; 7-Tomas Berdych (Cze) bt 30-Kevin Anderson (SA) 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-1), 6-1; 3-Roger Federer (Sui) bt Ivo Karlovic (Cro) 7-6 (8-6), 7-5, 6-3; 2-Rafael Nadal (Esp) bt Lukas Lacko (Svk) 6-2, 6-4, 6-2.
 
Women’s singles: 11-Kim Clijsters (Bel) bt 20-Daniela Hantuchova (Svk) 6-3, 6-2; 13-Jelena Jankovic (Srb) bt Christina McHale (US) 6-2, 6-0; 22-Julia Goerges (Ger) bt Romina Oprandi (Ita) 3-6, 6-3, 6-1; 1-Caroline Wozniacki (Den) bt 31-Monica Niculescu (Rom) 6-2, 6-2; 3-Victoria Azarenka (Blr) bt Mona Barthel (Ger) 6-2, 6-4.

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