Australian Open: Federer beats Mallise, for record 57th win

Friday, January 21, 2011

MELBOURNE - Roger Federer beat longtime Belgian opponent Xavier Malisse 6-3, 6-3, 6-1 in a battle for old time’s sake and broke the all-time record for men’s match victories at the Australian Open in the process Friday.

The Swiss second seed, the defending champion bidding for his fifth career title at Melbourne Park, notched his 57th win, which puts him one ahead of Swede Stefan Edberg, an idol of the younger Federer.

Federer won 10 games in a row from 3-1 down in the second set as he moved into the fourth round in 1 hour 45 minutes over the 30-year-old Malisse, who burst onto the tennis scene at the same time as the Swiss more than a decade ago.

The victory moved Federer to an 8-1 mark in their series, where he suffered his lone loss in their initial 1999 meeting in the Davis Cup.

“I thought today was intense, the first two sets almost did not reflect how tough it could have been,” said Federer.

“Maybe I broke his will a little bit because he was up 3-1 in the second, then I was able to come back and win 10 straight games which was obviously a great run.”

Federer put the form which has taken him to a record 16 Grand Slam titles on display, breaking on seven of his 17 chances and firing 36 winners.

He will next play Tommy Robredo after the Spaniard defeated Sergiy Stakhovsky 5-7, 6-2, 6-4, 6-2. Federer stands 9-0 against Robredo, a 2007 quarter-finalist.

It was a quick, 39-minute day for third seed and 2008 winner Novak Djokovic, who advanced when Davis Cup teammate Viktor Troicki retired trailing 6-2, with a stomach muscle injury.

“After the match he told me that he could not make a full movement of the serve that he usually does,” said Djokovic. “He obviously tried his best.”

Wimbledon finalist Tomas Berdych, seeded sixth, ended the hopes of Frenchman Richard Gasquet 6-2, 7-6 (7-3), 6-2, while American eighth seed Andy Roddick needed a fightback to overcome injured (ankle) Dutchman Robin Haase 2-6, 7-6 (7-2), 6-2, 6-2.

“Once I was able to get the momentum on my side, I think he was thinking about each shot a little bit more instead of kind of free-wheeling,” said Roddick of his upset escape.

“But that is what it takes some days. I was able to keep in the match just by serving really well.”

Women’s top seed Caroline Wozniacki booked a straightforward win, then turned the tables on the media by asking the questions in a post-match conference after she heard through the media grapevine that her sessions are a bit “boring.”

The Dane earned a quick revenge against Dominika Cibulkova 6-3, 6-4 after the Slovak knocked her out of Sydney last week.

She launched into a personal public relations campaign, happily throwing up the answers to unusual queries on issues such as global warming, her beloved Liverpool football club, cricket - she took instruction this week from Victorian team members - and even her taste in men.

“First I have to find a guy,” she joked, adding: “What do I expect in a guy? Honesty. Understanding what I am doing. Maybe a sports person himself.”

And on saving the earth: “When you take a shower, don’t stay there for half an hour. Two minutes is enough - even the girls.”

Sixth-seeded French Open champion Francesca Schiavone beat Romanian Monica Niculescu 6-0, 7-6 (7-2), number eight Victoria Azarenka beat South African Chanelle Scheepers 6-3, 6-3 and China’s ninth seed Li Na, dispatched Czech Barbora Zahlavova Strycova 6-2, 6-1.

Russia’s two-time grand Slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova beat injured seven-time winner Justine Henin 6-4, 7-6 (10-8), with the Belgian admitting that the elbow injury which kept her out of the game for six months until early January is still not right.

“I was aggressive, and I served better, I dictated most of the time,” said Kuznetsova.

“I was not scared at all when I went to the match, I just wanted to play my game and try to play with my best against her worst.”

Ex-champion Maria Sharapova of Russia rallied to defeat determined German Julia Goerges 4-6, 6-4, 6-4.

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