Federer, Djokovic reach third round

Updated: January 21, 2009, 9:14 AM ET
Associated Press

MELBOURNE, Australia -- Roger Federer and Marat Safin rolled to easy victories Wednesday against first-time opponents to reach the Australian Open's third round, where the familiarity factor will be much higher: They'll be playing each other.

[+] EnlargeMarat Safin
William West/Getty ImagesMarat Safin, the 2005 Australian Open champion, reached the third round.
"I'm happy to be playing Marat; we have fought some battles," Federer said after ousting error-prone Evgeny Korolev of Russia 6-2, 6-3, 6-1 in just 86 minutes. "We had the epic in 2005."

That was a semifinal thriller here that Safin won in a 9-7 fifth set en route to the championship. Federer, seeking to tie Pete Sampras' record of 14 Grand Slam titles, has won their last three meetings, including the last two at Wimbledon.

Although Federer's No. 2 ranking is 24 places higher, Safin's talent, unpredictability and famed volatility set the stage for an early marquee matchup.

The winner would be on track for a possible semifinal meeting against defending champion Novak Djokovic, who traded shots with No. 68 Jeremy Chardy for nearly a set before the Frenchman faltered.

Third-ranked Djokovic cruised the rest of the way for a 7-5, 6-1, 6-3 win.

"I'm playing better and better which is very encouraging," Djokovic said. "I really stepped it up."

Also Wednesday, Andy Roddick advanced to the third round by beating qualifier Xavier Malisse of Belgium 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (1), 6-2.

Malisse, a former top 20 player now ranked No. 195, played strongly over most of the first three sets but appeared deflated by his lopsided tiebreaker loss in the third.

Roddick will face French veteran Fabrice Santoro in the third round.

Former Wimbledon runner-up David Nalbandian, who appeared to be in form after winning in Sydney last week, was knocked out by unheralded Taiwanese player Yen-hsun Lu 6-4, 5-7, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 in just under four hours. The 25-year-old Lu had never advanced past the second round in 12 previous Slams.

With Swiss flags scattered around Rod Laver Arena, Federer gave notice he was on top of his game with back-to-back aces in the first game against Korolev, who collapsed in a cascade of mistakes every time Federer cranked up the pressure. The Russian finished with 44 unforced errors to just 15 for Federer.

Safin, a former world No. 1, beat Guillermo Garcia-Lopez of Spain 7-5, 6-2, 6-2. He will turn 29 next week and has said it is unlikely he will play after this year, so he's trying to enjoy what could be his farewell tour.

"I have nothing to lose," Safin said. "I'm going to go for it. Whatever comes, comes. He knows how to play against me; I know how to play against him."

Djokovic next faces Bosnian-born Amer Delic, of Jacksonville, Florida. Delic, who got a spot in the draw as a lucky loser from qualifying when other players withdrew, rallied from two sets down to beat No. 28 Paul-Henri Mathieu of France 1-6, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (3), 9-7.

Delic beat American Taylor Dent in the first round. Dent's father Phil, a former Australian Davis Cup player, complained about unruly behavior from flag-waving Bosnian fans.

Delic anticipated an emotion-charged environment in the next round, saying he'd appeal for calm among his supporters, and expected Djokovic would do the same.

Among the men's seeded players advancing were No. 11 David Ferrer of Spain, No. 15 Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland, No. 19 Marin Cilic of Croatia, No. 20 Tomas Berdych of Czech Republic, and No. 21 Tommy Robredo of Spain and American Mardy Fish, seeded 23rd.

In the doubles, second-ranked Bob and Mike Bryan opened with a 7-5, 6-3 win over Chile's Fernando Gonzalez and Mariano Hood of Argentina.


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press