Melbourne: Novak Djokovic fine-tuned his voice and his game at the Australian Open 2015 on Saturday, advancing to the fourth round with a straight-sets win over Fernando Verdasco and then urging the crowd of 15,000 to sing Happy Birthday to his mother back home. After a marathon first set lasting an hour, Djokovic took control of the match and eventually won 7-6 (10-8) 6-3 6-4 in two hours and 21 minutes. The Serbian world No. 1 put on an impressive show to beat Verdasco despite the Spaniard putting in his own fine performance.
Djokovic was taken to a tiebreak by Verdasco in the opener after spurning six break-point opportunities while losing just four points on his own serve. Although the Serb had the better of the opening exchanges, his Spanish opponent dug in tremendously well and was the one who took the initiative in the tiebreak. It looked as though Verdasco may take an invaluable first set when he went 5-3 up in the tiebreak and was serving to claim three set points. However, an almost comedic double fault from Verdasco, proved to be a key turning point, Djokovic eventually winning the tiebreak 10-8 with his fourth set point:
The Williams sisters had their own celebration of sorts, progressing together to the fourth round of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time since Wimbledon in 2011. When 18-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams noticed that older sister Venus was advancing to the second week, it inspired her own 4-6, 6-2, 6-0 win over No. 26-ranked Elina Svitolina.
No. 8 Milos Raonic fired 22 aces in a 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 win over Benjamin Becker and will next play No. 12 Feliciano Lopez, who had a 7-6 (6), 6-4, 7-6 (3) win over Jerzy Janowicz.
No. 5 Kei Nishikori, the U.S. Open finalist, beat Steve Johnson 6-7 (7), 6-1, 6-2, 6-3 and will next meet former French Open finalist David Ferrer, who struggled to finish off No. 18 Gilles Simon in four sets.
Gilles Muller beat No. 19 John Isner 7-6 (4), 7-6 (6), 6-4 to set up a fourth-round clash with Djokovic.
There was one major upset in the women’s draw, with American teenager Madison Keys stunning Petra Kvitova in the final match of the night. Keys swept aside fourth seed Petra Kvitova 6-4 7-5 with a display of precise power hitting from the baseline to reach her first major fourth round. She now plays fellow American Madison Brengle, ranked 64, for a place in her first Grand Slam quarter-final.
Wawrinka has happy memories of the Australian Open having picked up his first Grand Slam title in Melbourne last year and he has barely put a foot wrong so far in 2015. He came through in straight sets once again in his Saturday third-round match against Nieminen, winning 6-4, 6-2, 6-4, and he is looking good to go deep into the tournament with Guillermo Garcia-Lopez to face next. After Federer’s shock defeat on Friday, Wawrinka is now the main Swiss hope for glory in the year’s first Grand Slam
Men’s Singles – Round 3
Novak Djoković (SRB) beat Fernando Verdasco (ESP)
7-6(8) 6-3 6-4
Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI) beat Jarkko Nieminen (FIN)
6-4 6-2 6-4
Kei Nishikori (JPN) beat Steve Johnson (USA)
6-7(7) 6-1 6-2 6-3
Milos Raonic (CAN) beat Benjamin Becker (GER)
6-4 6-3 6-3
Women’s Singles – Round 3
Serena Williams (USA) beat Elina Svitolina (UKR)
4-6 6-2 6-0
Madison Keys (USA) beat Petra Kvitova (CZE)
Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) beat Varvara Lepchenko (USA)
Victoria Azarenka (BLR) beat Barbora Zahlavova Strycova (CZE)