Fabulous Federer lays down marker by trouncing Berdych

Roger Federer sailed past long-time rival Tomas Berdych in straight sets to storm into the fourth round at the Australian Open on Friday.

Reuters

Roger Federer is through to the last 16.   -  Reuters

Roger Federer emphasised his credentials as a serious contender for the Australian Open with a spectacular demolition of Tomas Berdych on Rod Laver Arena.

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Now 35 and seeded 17th following an injury-plagued 2016, Federer acknowledged before the tournament that he was "clearly an underdog" and had been anticipated to face a stiff test on Friday against Berdych - a quarterfinalist or better in his last six visits to Melbourne Park.

>Read: Murray too good for Querrey at Australian Open

However, the Czech found himself outclassed as the 17-time Grand Slam champion dominated proceedings with a performance reminiscent of those he produced so regularly during his peak. Federer, who had been below his best in the opening rounds, dropped just 14 points on serve and clinically converted four out of five break-point opportunities as he triumphed 6-2, 6-4, 6-4 in an hour and 30 minutes.

Minimum fuss

Next up for the Swiss is a mouthwatering last-16 tie against Kei Nishikori, with World No.1 Andy Murray the likely quarterfinal opponent for the winner. Should Federer maintain the form he showed against Berdych, he will surely feel a fifth Australian Open title is a realistic goal.

Berdych only made one unforced error in the opening set, but was still comprehensively beaten as his more aggressive opponent dictated the play. A run of seven games in succession put Federer in total control, leading by a set and a break and, although Berdych eventually started to hold serve again, the 10th seed was unable to make any impression when returning.

Watch: >Federer eases into third round

The second set was wrapped up by Federer with the minimum of fuss and the same pattern continued in the third - his victory completed in fitting fashion as a cross-court backhand yielded his 40th winner of the match.

STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN 
Federer [17] bt Berdych [10] 6-2 6-4 6-4

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Federer - 40/17
Berdych - 26/14

ACES
Federer - 8
Berdych - 13

BREAK POINTS WON  
Federer - 4/5
Berdych - 0/0

FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE  
Federer - 59
Berdych - 63

PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE  
Federer - 95/59
Berdych - 84/30

TOTAL POINTS  
Federer - 85
Berdych - 66

Reuters adds:

Roger Federer had shown rust in his earlier matches but was in spell-binding touch with 40 winners and completed the masterclass at a floodlit Rod Laver Arena with an imperious crosscourt backhand.

“It was a great mental test for me to see if I could stay in the match point for point, keep rolling,” said a glowing Federer, who cracked jokes in his post-match news conference and will next face fifth seed Kei Nishikori brimful of confidence.

“I was able to do that. That's where I'm just really happy that I was able to deliver that. From the baseline, honestly I felt worlds better than in the first couple of rounds. Yeah, it's wonderful.”