Last year: Bernard Tomic played two good pre-Australian Open tournaments and said before his fourth round meeting with Roger Federer that he would beat the 4-time champion, ended up losing 4-6 2-6 2-6 though. This year: Tomic beat Djokovic at the Hopman Cup and said he’s unstoppable, won his maiden title in Sydney, had a 76-game winning streak on serve, presented haircut with stripes above his right ear, but Federer took him down a peg or two again. Tomic’s streak was broken as early as the opening game of the match when he netted a casual forehand. The 20-year-old Australian held another ten service games, the last two with big problems to establish a 4:1 lead in a tie-break. Afterwards he led *5:3 when Federer pushed himself to a tremendous effort in defense to turn the tie-break around. In the end, Tomic won just three games more than last year: 6-4 7-6(5) 6-1 for Federer – his 250th Grand Slam win #. “I think overall we both played a great match… (he) really got the best out of me tonight so I hope he can keep it up,” Federer said in a courtside interview. Players of the tightest tennis elite (Federer, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, David Ferrer, Thomas Berdych, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga) have won all matches of the first week so easily it’s a bit annoying, especially if we consider they met very good, experienced players like Marcos Baghdatis (Ferrer overwhelmed him 6-4 6-2 6-3) or Jurgen Melzer (he was able to take only seven games off Berdych). “Tonight, it was my best match of the week,” said Ferrer. “I’m very happy to win in three sets against Marcos. It is difficult”. The Spaniard after identical scoreline on the same court (Rod Laver Arena, night session too) upset two years ago Rafael Nadal‘s bid of becoming the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to win four consecutive majors. In the context of those easy roads to the last 16, Jeremy Chardy made the tournament more interesting on Saturday. The Frenchman has based his game on two shots: serve + forehand, and when they work properly, he is a tricky opponent. Murray knows something about it because he lost 4 & 4 to Chardy in Cincinnati ’12. In the following match out there, Chardy was trounced by Juan Martin del Potro, despite the Argentine hadn’t fully fit left wrist. Therefore I didn’t expect Chardy would beat Del Potro on Hisense Arena. Chardy found his obsessive serve & forehand rhythm though, and almost ousted the 6th seed in easy three sets! Del Potro saved four break points trailing 2:3 in the 3rd set, at 4:5 (15-all) he won a rally in which Chardy had two overheads and his beloved forehand standing in the box area! The Argentine never came back to win from a two-sets-to-love deficit, but it might have seemed probable for the first time as he had a break point at 2-all in the deciding set. Chardy escaped with another powerful serve (20 aces in total), broke in the 8th game and finished the contest off with an ace: 6-3 6-3 6-7(3) 3-6 6-3 in 3 hours 45 minutes. “It’s maybe the best [win] of my career,” said Chardy. “I beat Murray last year in Cincinnati. But here it’s something more because it’s the Australian Open, third round, I play a top player. It’s a big win for me. I’m just so happy, I enjoyed it.” A new quarter-finalist at majors is guaranteed because Chardy will meet in the fourth round Andreas Seppi, who outsmarted a 5-set specialist Marin Cilic on Court No. 2. The Croat led 2:0 on serve in the decider only to lose six straight games…4-6 6-3 4-6 7-6(4) 6-2, after 3 hours 46 minutes, andKevin Anderson has finally advanced to the last 16 at majors hitting a blistering forehand on a match point. He’d failed four previous third round attempts, but every time he’d faced a top-class player (twice Berdych, once Gasquet & Fish). This time he also met a top-class player, former semifinalist Fernando Verdasco. The Spaniard was three points away from winning the match in four sets, but it happened when Anderson was serving at 5:6 (40/30), so the pressure wasn’t huge on the South African, who fired just 9 aces, but his serve was solid throughout, gave him many free points and opened possibilities to finish rallies off with strokes directly after Verdasco’s returns. “I was very emotional at the end,” said Anderson. “I tried my best to win it at 5-2, it’s a little easier than having to serve it out, I was pretty happy to see that forehand go by. It would definitely be up there in one of the most important and best matches I’ve played, the only ones in the same ballpark would have been the finals I’ve played at the 250 [ATP World Tour] level. It was one of the most important matches of my life and hopefully I’ll be able to reproduce more of those in the future.” Anderson is the only unseeded player left in the top half of the draw, but his advancement to the fourth round shouldn’t been treated as a big surprise. He’s made significant progress lately and is currently ranked No. 31 while the lowest seeded player, Julien Benneteau was 38th when the tournament kicked off. Benneteau was defeated in five sets on Margaret Court Arena by Janko Tipsarevic, for both players it was second more-than-3-and-half-hours battle in succession. Tipsarevic is unbeaten on tour this year (7-0 record). He next faces Nicolas Almagro, who moved through to the fourth round in Melbourne for the fourth year running. He ousted 7-6 7-6 6-1 Jerzy Janowicz. Almagro wasn’t threaten on his serve the entire match – Janowicz didn’t get ‘deuce’ on return even once (!), in the 3rd set he didn’t show any sign of belief in second consecutive comeback from two-sets-to-love. Richard Gasquet – just like Tipsarevic – hasn’t lost a match so far in 2013. He notched his eight win of the season outlasting Ivan Dodig 4-6 6-3 7-6(2) 6-0. The Frenchman was initially in troubles, but hit an ace at 1:3 (adv.) to avoid a double break disadvantage in the 2nd set which allowed him finding the right track, however, he was close to lose the 3rd set as well – rallied from a *5:6 (15/30) deficit, and never looked back since then winning 37 of the last 51 points. Une guerre française d’épuisement masochiste: Gilles Simon and Gael Monfils were harrasing each other with long punishing rallies (72 strokes at most – allegedly the longest rally in Australian Open history!) in the last fourth round match, on Hisense Arena, concluded half past midnight local time. There was a lot of grunting, moaning, back bending, crouching and facial grimaces. Both Frenchmen needed treatment to sore legs. Monfils was complaining on right hand blisters (because of that he played one game using only forehand slices), in turn Simon was precisely indicating pain in his right forearm. Monfils led *2:0 in a topsy-turvy 5th set, consisted of seven breaks. At the end of that set, they exchanged 47-stroke rallies twice splitting the outcome ##. Simon was eventually more clever, and obtained 12 of the last 14 points. There are four Musketeers in the last 16, it’s been the best result for the French tennis in Melbourne since 1998 (Cedric Pioline, Nicolas Escude, Lionel Roux, Guillaume Raoux).
Longest match: 4 hours, 43 minutes. Gilles Simon d. Gael Monfils 6-4, 6-4, 4-6, 1-6, 8-6 Most aces: 26 – Milos Raonic, defeated Philipp Kohlschreiber (three sets)
17-8 Janko Tipsarevic, 16-12 Fernando Verdasco, 15-7 Marin Cilic, 12-11 Andreas Seppi, 10-5 Gael Monfils, 10-6 Gilles Simon, 7-6 Julien Benneteau, 6-2 Jeremy Chardy, 5-5 Kevin Anderson, 4-6 Juan Martin del Potro
# Most Grand Slam matches won:
250 – Roger Federer, 233 – Jimmy Connors, 224 – Andre Agassi, 222 – Ivan Lendl, 203 – Pete Sampras
## The longest rallies of three rounds:
Six longest come from the Monfils-Simon match (!): 72 (Simon), 47 (Monfils, Simon), 45 (Simon), 42 (Monfils), 35 (Simon) 34 – John Millman won against Tatsuma Ito 33 – Richard Gasquet won against Ivan Dodig