Djokovic fends off Stepanek to book fourth-round seat in Australia
Melbourne, Australia (4E Sports) – World’s No.1 and defending champion Novak Djokovic brushed off a stiff challenge from Czech Republic’s Radek Stepanek 6-4, 6-3, 7-5 to secure his place in the fourth round of the Australian Open Championships.
Djokovic, gunning for his third straight Australian Open champion and sixth Grand Slam title, had a tougher match against the veteran Czech compared to his first two opponents but the Serb was simply overpowering.
Stepanek pushed Djokovic beyond 8 games in the first two sets before taking him into a nail-biting tie breaker in the third set.
With the victory, ‘Nole’ sets up a fourth-round clash with Switzerland’s Stanislas Wawrinka, who defeated Sam Querrey in the third round.
David Ferrer, Kei Nishikori, Tomas Berdych and Nicolas Almagro only needed three sets to move on while Janko Tipsarevic had to overcome Julien Benneteau in a five-set thriller, 3-6, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4, 6-3.
Fernando Verdasco made an early exit after bowing out to fast-rising Kevin Anderson in another nail-biting match that went all the way to the deciding set. Anderson took the win with a 4-6, 6-3, 4-6, 7-6, 6-2 line.
Meanwhile, Maria Sharapova ended Venus Williams’ campaign in Melbourne after crushing the 25th seed American 6-1, 6-3 in their third-round match at Rod Laver Arena.
Sharapova remains on track to wina second Australian Open title and fifth career Grand Slam with dominant wins through her first three matches.
Former world’s no.1 Ana Ivanovic progressed to the next round by defeating her compatriot and another former top-ranked player Jelena Jankovic 7-5, 6-3 while Li Na also advanced with a 6-4, 6-1 victory over Sorana Cirstea.