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Federer, Nadal and Wozniacki stay on track at Aussie Open

  Melbourne, Wednesday @Peoplesports11

Roger Federer ground out a tough three-set win to make the Australian Open third round for an incredible 20th straight year Wednesday, with long-time rival Rafael Nadal and women’s defending champion Caroline Wozniacki also safely through.

But it was curtains for South African Kevin Anderson, who slumped out to young American Frances Tiafoe and became the highest seed, at five, to be sent packing so far.

On an overcast day at Melbourne Park, second seed Angelique Kerber, the 2016 winner, and former US Open champion Sloane Stephens joined the big guns in progressing, but the women’s side also saw a top 10 player crash. Ninth seed Kiki Bertens, who raced through the rankings last year after winning three titles, was whipped in three sets by Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

Federer might be 37 but he’s not showing his age, with British qualifier Dan Evans the latest to fall under his spell as he works towards a third successive Australian crown and a 21st major victory.

He defeated Evans at Wimbledon last year with the loss of just eight games, but it was a much harder assignment this time, winning 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (7/3), 6-3 on Rod Laver Arena.

“I think if I could have pulled away earlier in the match it might have been easier. I think he played very well, it was hard to pull away to his credit,” said the third seed.

The Swiss star’s Australian achievements so far put him on a par with other six-time winners Novak Djokovic and Roy Emerson, although the Australian great’s victories all came before the Open era. He next plays American Taylor Fritz.

If he goes on to win the tournament, he will become the first man ever to claim seven or more titles at two Grand Slams, having already won eight Wimbledon.

Seventeen-time Slam winner Nadal had an easier route to round three, outclassing local hope Matthew Ebden 6-3, 6-2, 6-2.

The Spaniard is bidding for his own slice of history by becoming the first man in the Open era, and only the third in history along with Emerson and Rod Laver, to win each Grand Slam on two or more occasions.

“I played a solid match, I was happy with the way I served. I did a few things very well,” said Nadal, who next plays Australian Alex de Minaur. He added: “It is an honour to play here. Was a great atmosphere.”  -AFP

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