Serbia’s Novak Djokovic celebrates after winning his third round match against Italy’s Andreas Seppi at the Australian Open tennis tournament at Melbourne Park, Australia, 22 January – Reuters
REUTERS: Novak Djokovic continued his path to a potential Australian Open semi-final showdown with Roger Federer with a 6-1 7-5 7-6(6) third round victory over Italy’s Andreas Seppi on Friday.
The five-times Australian Open champion raced out to an opening 5-0 lead before Seppi, who beat Federer in four sets at the same stage last year, finally held his own serve though the Serb clinched the first set in 25 minutes in the next game.
Seppi, however, then rediscovered the form that troubled Federer so much last year and it was only successive lengthy rallies of 20 and 32 shots in the 11th game of the second set that enabled Djokovic to break, then serve out.
The pair remained on serve throughout an evenly matched third set until Djokovic saved two set points in the tiebreak to set up a fourth round clash with 14th seeded Frenchman Gilles Simon.
Meanwhile, the Australian Open continued to be an unhappy hunting ground for Marin Cilic on Friday as the former US Open champion perished in the third round in a 6-4 7-6(5) 7-5 defeat by Roberto Bautista Agut.
The Croatian 12th seed fired down 15 aces and belted 46 winners but that was not enough to topple his Spanish rival, who capitalised on Cilic’s 55 unforced errors to equal his best showing at Melbourne Park.
Since reaching the semi-finals at the Open in 2010, Cilic has failed to make it past the fourth round and will be disappointed that he missed out on a last 16 showdown with either Australian firecracker Nick Kyrgios or Czech sixth seed Tomas Berdych.