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Federer keeps hunt for Slam No. 20 on track, Djokovic advances

By The Assam Tribune

MELBOURNE, Jan 20: Defending champion Roger Federer continued his dominance over Richard Gasquet to reach the round of 16 at the Australian Open today and keeps his quest for a 20th Grand Slam title on track.

The Swiss star beat the Frenchman 6-2, 7-5, 6-4 in just under two hours in a night match on Rod Laver Arena.

Novak Djokovic sought a medical timeout for a lower back injury as he claimed his 11th round of 16 appearance today.

The six-time champion advanced with a clear-cut 6-2, 6-3, 6-3 win over Spanish 21st seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas in 2hr 21min on Margaret Court Arena.

Federer has unheralded Hungarian and one-time training partner Marton Fucsovics up next and a potential quarterfinal with Tomas Berdych, who upset Juan Martin Del Porto in straight sets earlier Saturday.

Federer, rated the favourite to win his 20th major even at the venerable age of 36, progressed to the fourth round at the Australian Open for the 16th time.

The Swiss has only lost twice to the stylish Frenchman in their 19 meetings, winning all their four Grand Slam encounters.

Significantly, Gasquet hasn�t won a set against Federer since 2011, a run of 22 sets to the Swiss.

�I was able to stay more on the offensive than he was and maybe I was protecting my own serve better than him,� Federer said.

�The second set was tight. The match was close. Tough games. The end could have gone to a tie-breaker, and then you never know.

�I am coming in this year very fit and well equipped where five-setters was not an issue where last year was a question mark.�

Federer, who did not face a break point in 26 games, lost his only serve in the match late in the third set on his second break point, such was his dominance.

The Swiss legend broke Gasquet�s serve five times and hit 42 winners with 30 unforced errors.

He improved his Australian Open record to 90-13.

Federer is coming off an extraordinary 2017, when he won a fifth Australian Open title and a record eighth at Wimbledon, after returning from an injury lay-off.

It was in Melbourne a year ago where he lit the fuse on his late-life tennis renaissance, beating Berdych, Kei Nishikori, Mischa Zverev and Stan Wawrinka before downing great rival Rafael Nadal in a five-set final classic.

Djokovic later played down the extent of the problem, saying �it�s okay, nothing major�.

The Serb, looking for matches after a six-month lay-off with right elbow trouble, will face South Korea�s Chung Hyeon in Sunday�s fourth round after he shocked fourth seed Alexander Zverev. � AFP

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