MELBOURNE (AFP) –
World number one Novak Djokovic turned on the fireworks to power into the third round along with top seeds David Ferrer and Tomas Berdych at the Australian Open on Wednesday.
The Serbian three-time winner produced his best form of the tournament in dishing out a comprehensive 6-1, 6-2, 6-3 win over young American Ryan Harrison in 1hr 31min on Rod Laver Arena.
Djokovic raced through the opening set in just 20 minutes and captured six service breaks, without a break point against him in the match along with 37 winners and just 16 unforced errors.
The top seed will now take on Czech journeyman and 31st seed Radek Stepanek in the round of 32.
While Djokovic was in a class of his own, Ferrer was stretched to four sets and five match points, while Berdych went through in straight sets.
Spanish fourth seed Ferrer was extended by 125th-ranked American Tim Smyczek before clinching a 6-0, 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 win in 2hr 38min on Margaret Court Arena.
But Czech fifth seed Berdych had no such concerns, sweeping to a straight-sets win over Frenchman Guillaume Rufin.
Ferrer, looking to take advantage of compatriot Rafael Nadal‘s enforced absence to go deep into the second week of the tournament, will play 2006 finalist Marcos Baghdatis next up.
Baghdatis needed four sets before putting away Japan’s Tatsuma Ito to reach the last 32.
Elsewhere on day three, Serbian eighth seed Janko Tipsarevic followed up his opening round win over Lleyton Hewitt with a five-set victory over Lukas Lacko, and Japan’s Kei Nishikori powered on with a straight-sets win over Argentina’s Carlos Berlocq.
Ferrer looked to be heading for a regulation straight-sets victory but the tenacious Smyczek broke him twice to take the third set and keep Ferrer longer out on the court.
Smyczek chased down everything and Ferrer needed five match points before finally prevailing.
It was Ferrer’s ninth win in 10 matches this year after reaching the semi-finals at Doha and successfully defending his title at Auckland last week.
Ferrer beat Nadal in the quarter-finals in Melbourne two years ago before going down to Andy Murray in the semi-finals, his best performance at the Australian Open.
Berdych, coming off the Czech Republic’s Davis Cup victory over Spain in Prague last November, was too strong for the 92nd-ranked Rufin, winning 6-2, 6-2, 6-4 in exactly two hours, and will next play Austria’s Jurgen Melzer.
Melzer, the 26th seed, toiled for 3hr 49min before overcoming Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut 6-7 (4/7), 6-3, 6-7 (3/7), 6-3, 6-2.
But Berdych was in little bother, breaking Rufin’s service six times and hitting 30 winners to 19.
Nishikori has enjoyed strong form in Australia, reaching the Brisbane semis before retiring hurt and making the Australian Open quarter-finals last year, the best ever Grand Slam performance by a Japanese man.
“I feel so comfortable playing here, you know, playing last year with a lot of support. You know, it’s one of the best Grand Slams for me to play,” he said.
“It’s the Asian Grand Slam, and like you see today, I had a lot of support, and that makes me play better. Yeah, I love it.”
Luckless American Brian Baker collapsed clutching his knee early in the second set and retired injured against compatriot Sam Querrey.
Baker, the world number 57, bravely returned to tennis in 2011 following a series of operations.