On a day when men’s seeds tumbled, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer strode into the third round.
Seven-time champion Novak Djokovic weathered a testing second set and breezy conditions to crush Japanese wildcard Tatsuma Ito and reach the Australian Open third round Wednesday.
The Serbian star gave up just seven games against the world number 146 in the 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 romp on Rod Laver Arena which lasted 95 minutes. His reward is a clash against another Japanese, Yoshihito Nishioka, who beat Britain’s Dan Evans in three sets.
In the night session, ruthless Federer kept intact his 20-year record of reaching at least the third round of the Australian Open after crushing Serb Filip Krajinovic.
The 38-year-old third seed dominated the 41st-ranked Krajinovic 6-1, 6-4, 6-1 on Rod Laver Arena, stretching his record over him to 4-0. He will next face Australian John Millman, who battled past 31st seed Hubert Hurkacz of Poland.
In the biggest upsets so far, Tennys Sandgren sent eighth seed Matteo Berrettini packing. Berrettini, last year’s US Open semi-finalist, slumped to defeat in a five-set marathon which finished 7-6 (9/7), 6-4, 4-6, 2-6, 7-5 in 3hrs 23 mins – the highest ranked seed to fall so far.
The American eyes another strong performance after his scandal-marred run to the 2018 quarter-finals but it was a disappointing end for the Italian, who reached the US Open semi-finals and stormed up the rankings last year, reaching a new career-high 10 times.
Another US Open 2019 semi-finalist, 18th seed Grigor Dimitrov, was knocked out in the second round as well by 22-year-old American Tommy Paul.
The youngster, who had not won a single Grand Slam match before this tournament, beat the Bulgarian 6-4, 7-6(6), 3-6, 6-7(3), 7-6 [10-3] in a thrilling five-setter that ended in a match tiebreak.
Meanwhile, Sixth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas got a free ride into the third round when German opponent Philipp Kohlschreiber pulled out injured.
The Greek star, who dropped just five games in his opening clash against Italian Salvatore Caruso, will play big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic who beat Christian Garin 6-3, 6-4, 6-2.
Former Australian Open finalist Marin Cilic, who is unseeded this year, was made to battle against 21st seed Paire. The Croatian prevailed in the fifth set match tiebreak to win 6-2, 6-7(6) 3-6, 6-1, 7-6 [10-3].
Djokovic is cruise control
It was Djokovic’s 70th match win at Melbourne Park to only eight defeats, but one of those defeats was against a wildcard – Denis Istomin – in the second round three years ago.
With that in mind, he came out with all guns blazing, racing through the first set in just 22 minutes.
The 32-year-old dropped a set in a tough opening clash on Monday against German Jan-Lennard Struff, and against the odds Ito pressed hard to level the match in the second set.
The experienced Japanese, bidding to reach a Grand Slam third round for the first time, cut down on his error rate to push Djokovic around the court and get into the rallies.
But the Serb inevitably got the break he was chasing in game nine when Ito fluffed a forehand and he quickly served it out, blasting down an ace to go two sets ahead.
Djokovic, bidding for a 17th Grand Slam title, had never lost a Slam match to a player ranked as low as Ito and the Japanese couldn’t sustain his level, leaking errors as the world number two galloped to the finish line.
He is now on an eight-match win streak after leading Serbia to the ATP Cup title in Sydney ahead of the first Major of the year.
Federer, who is bidding for a seventh title to match Novak Djokovic’s record, and his first since 2018, came into the tournament without playing a warm-up event but has nevertheless looked ominous. Over his two matches he has dropped just 13 games.
“Very happy, been a great start to the season,” said Federer as he moved a step closer to a 21st Grand Slam title.
“I feel really relaxed on court. I’ve trained hard and you always hope it pays off.”
Asked if he felt sorry for Krajinovic, he replied: “I do feel a bit sorry, but you’ve got to take advantage of it.”
Federer raced through his opening service game then broke straightaway when the Serb fired a backhand long.
The Swiss was in immaculate touch early and moving well, exhibiting his full repertoire, with some deft drop shots and quality groundstrokes as he dominated from the baseline and the net.
It was a lightning start and he broke again then held for 5-0 before the Serb finally got on the scoreboard, only to see Federer serve out the first set in just 20 minutes. With a steely look in his eyes, he broke again to take a 1-0 lead in the second set.
But Krajinovic, who made two finals last year, regrouped and managed to work a break point at 2-3 but couldn’t convert. He got another opportunity at 3-4 and this time didn’t waste it.
Clearly irked, Federer broke straight back with the Serb taking his frustrations out on his racquet, smashing it into the ground.
A double fault from the demoralised Krajinovic handed Federer a break to go 1-0 ahead in the third set and there was no way back against a man operating in a different sphere.
Tennys Sandgren (USA) bt Matteo Berrettini (ITA x8) 7-6 (9/7), 6-4, 4-6, 2-6, 7-5
Sam Querrey (USA) bt Ricardas Berankis (LTU) 7-6 (7/2), 4-6, 6-4, 6-4
Guido Pella (ARG x22) bt Gregoire Barrere (FRA) 6-1, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3
Marton Fucsovics (HUN) bt Jannik Sinner (ITA) 6-4, 6-4, 6-3
Tommy Paul (USA) bt Grigor Dimitrov (BUL x18) 6-4, 7-6 (8/6), 3-6, 6-7 (3/7), 7-6 (10/3)
John Millman (AUS) bt Hubert Hurkacz (POL x31) 6-4, 7-5, 6-3
Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE x6) bt Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) walkover
Milos Raonic (CAN x32) bt Cristian Garin (CHI) 6-3, 6-4, 6-2
Marin Cilic (CRO) bt Benoit Paire (FRA x21) 6-2, 6-7 (6/8), 3-6, 6-1, 7-6 (10/3)
Diego Schwartzman (ARG x14) bt Alejandro Davidovich (ESP) 6-1, 6-4, 6-2
Dusan Lajovic (SRB x24) bt Marc Polmans (AUS) 6-2, 6-4, 6-3
Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN) bt Daniel Evans (GBR x30) 6-4, 6-3, 6-4
Novak Djokovic (SRB x2) bt Tatsuma Ito (JPN) 6-1, 6-4, 6-2
Roger Federer (SUI x3) bt Filip Krajinovic (CRO) 6-1, 6-4, 6-1
Fabio Fognini (ITA x12) bt Jordan Thompson (AUS) 7-6 (7/4), 6-1, 3-6, 4-6, 7-6 (10/4)
Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP x9) bt Michael Mmoh (USA) 5-7, 6-2, 6-4, 6-1
With AFP Inputs