Djokovic, Murray on song

Serena, Kvitova enter round four; Lisicki packs off Kuznetsova

Fans caught a fleeting glimpse of Novak Djokovic at Rod Laver Arena on Saturday as the Serb hurtled into the fourth round of the Australian Open, while Andy Murray's mauling of the French continued at Melbourne Park.

Sabine Lisicki celebrates her win over Svetlana Kuznetsova. AFP

Serena Williams and Petra Kvitova were on court for less than an hour as injuries and mismatches again blighted the women's draw, while Maria Sharapova handled the first true test of her Open credentials in style to sweep into the next round.

World number one Djokovic secured his place in the last 16 by beating Frenchman Nicolas Mahut, whose 11 hours and five minutes marathon match with John Isner at Wimbledon 2010 was the longest in tennis history.

It took the Serb nine hours and 51 minutes less to beat Mahut, who was hindered by heavy strapping on his knee.

“Obviously I feel for my opponent, who evidently could not move on the court,” Djokovic said after his 6-0, 6-1, 6-1 romp. “I think most of the people expected him to just retire ... and walk out of the court.

“But he managed to stay. So all the credit for him.”
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga planted the first French flag in the fourth round by steamrolling Portugal's Frederico Gil 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 but, while Richard Gasquet joined him after an impressive 6-3, 6-3, 6-1 win over Janko Tipsarevic, three more of their countrymen fell by the wayside.

Gael Monfils battled back bravely from two sets down before losing in five to Kazakh Mikhail Kukushkin, Julien Benneteau was upended by Japan's Kei Nishikori and Michael Llodra fell to French executioner Murray.

The Scot has been runner-up at Melbourne Park for the last two years but his game is of a different quality this year. With confidence coursing through his veins and stoic coach Ivan Lendl supporting from the stands, Murray's maiden Grand Slam may not be far off.

World number four Murray, who beat France's Edouard Roger-Vasselin in the second round, now has 25 wins in his last 26 matches against French opposition.

“My movement was way better than the first two matches. I moved great tonight,” said Murray after his 6-4, 6-2, 6-0 win.

“That's a good sign for me because when I move well, the rest of my game goes well. That was the most pleasing thing for me about tonight.

“I need to keep improving, do things a bit better each round. Tonight I did a lot of things better, so I look forward to the next one.”

Benneteau's conquerer Nishikori is the first Japanese man to advance to the last 16 of the Australian Open since tennis was declared open in 1968.

In the last singles match of the day, Australia's Lleyton Hewitt scored an emotional 4-6, 6-3, 7-6, 6-3 win over Canadian Milos Raonic.  Wildcard Hewitt will now meet Djokovic in the fourth round.

Serena Williams, the last American standing at Melbourne Park after Vania King's exit on Saturday, raced into the last 16 in 59 minutes with a powerhouse display that left Greta Arn stunned after a 6-1, 6-1 drubbing.

“I'm definitely going to keep representing the flag as best I can,” said the 13-times Grand Slam champion. “I really don't think when I go out there that I'm the last American.

Fourteenth seed Sabine Lisicki of Germany overcame Russia’s Svetlana Kuznetsova, seeded 18th,  2-6, 6-4, 6-2.

Wimbledon champion Kvitova's match was only 38 minutes old when Russian Maria Kirilenko retired hurt. The 24-year-old Kirilenko had dropped the first set 6-0 and was broken in the first game of the second before retiring.

Sharapova needed nearly 90 minutes to get past German Angelique Kerber, an eternity compared to Williams and Kvitova. The Russian, who beat Kerber 6-1, 6-2 and has conceded just five games in three matches, has been the model of concentration so far, refusing to let conditions or other factors affect her.

Third round results (prefix denotes seeding):
Men’s singles:  Lleyton Hewitt (Aus) bt 23-Milos Raonic (Can) 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7-5), 6-3; 4-Andy Murray (Bri) bt Michael Llodra (Fra) 6-4, 6-2, 6-0; Mikhail Kukushkin (Kaz) bt 14-Gael Monfils (Fra) 6-2, 7-5, 5-7, 1-6, 6-4; 24-Kei Nishikori (Jpn) bt Julien Benneteau (Fra) 4-6, 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (7-4), 6-3; 17-Richard Gasquet (Fra) bt 9-Janko Tipsarevic (Srb) 6-3, 6-3, 6-1; 5-David Ferrer (Esp) bt 27-Juan Ignacio Chela (Arg) 7-5, 6-2, 6-1; 1-Novak Djokovic (Srb) bt Nicolas Mahut (Fra) 6-0, 6-1, 6-1; 6-Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (Fra) bt Frederico Gil (Por) 6-2, 6-2, 6-2.
Women’s singles: 12-Serena Williams (US) bt Greta Arn (Hun) 6-1, 6-1; Zheng Jie (Chn) bt 9-Marion Bartoli (Fra) 6-3, 6-3; Ekaterina Makarova (Rus) bt 7-Vera Zvonareva (Rus) 7-6 (9-7), 6-1; 21-Ana Ivanovic (Srb) bt Vania King (US) 6-3, 6-4; Sara Errani (Ita) bt Sorana Cirstea (Rom) 6-7 (6-8), 6-0, 6-2; 2-Petra Kvitova (Cze) bt 27-Maria Kirilenko (Rus) 6-0, 1-0 (retd).

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