MELBOURNE, Jan 21 (AFP): Defending champion Roger Federer broke Stefan Edberg�s Australian Open record for match wins as he cruised into the fourth round today.
The world number two was untroubled as he got past one-time junior rival Xavier Malisse 6-3, 6-3, 6-1 in 1hr 45min on Rod Laver Arena on the hottest day of the tournament so far.
In doing so the Swiss maestro eclipsed Swede Edberg�s record for most Open Era wins at the Australian Open with 57 since his Melbourne debut in 2000.
�It�s very nice to take the record but Edberg still stays my idol,� Federer told the crowd on Rod Laver Arena.
Federer, bidding for his fifth Australian title and to extend his record Grand Slam haul to 17, will take on unseeded Spaniard Tommy Robredo on Sunday for a place in the quarter-finals. He has not missed playing in a quarterfinal in Melbourne since 2003.
Federer made light of his desperate five-set escape against Frenchman Gilles Simon in Wednesday�s second round to break Malisse�s serve seven times in his eighth win in nine meetings with the Belgian.
�I thought today was intense too,� Federer said. �The first two sets almost didn�t reflect how tough it was.
�I think that maybe broke his will a little bit because he was up 3-1 in the second and I was able to come back and win 11 straight games and I was able to do a few different things.�
While David Nalbandian was spent after his gruelling five-setter with Lleyton Hewitt and retired with dizzy spells in the next round, durable Federer came back well from his torrid win over Simon.
�I always said you can�t win a Grand Slam in the first week but you can lose it. Maybe that�s what happened to Nalbandian,� he said.
�Starting with such a tough match early on in the tournament down the stretch you get tough players, another grinder... And eventually it gets you.
�That�s what happened to him (Nalbandian). It�s unfortunate but it didn�t happen to me. I would have been okay playing another one today, no problem.�
Federer won his record 16th Grand Slam title at the Australian Open last year when he downed Britain�s Andy Murray in straight sets.
Federer, who had back issues at last year�s French Open and Wimbledon, said he has no similar problems in this tournament.