Australian Open day 6: Djokovic smashes Wimbledon recordman Mahut, Murray walks through last 16
Top seed Novak Djokovic underlined his status as World No. 1 crushing Nicolas Mahut 6-0 6-1 6-1 in just 74 minutes.
It was an unwanted present for birthday boy Mahut, and a game that, in length, contrasted starkly with his most famous match, the 11-hour marathon versus John Isner at Wimbledon in 2011.
The Frenchman witnessed no mercy from Djokovic though, who made just one unforced error, broke Mahut eight times and has now won 24 straight sets at the Australian Open, a record stretching back to the 2011 second round.
Djokovic hit the lines superbly and destroyed Mahut’s serve and volley game, returning to his feet and leaving the 30-year-old with few options. Mahut acknowledged the gulf in class with ironic celebrations upon winning his first game, cheering up the crowd.
The match was a signal of intent from the Serb though, who now faces Milos Raonic or former World No. 1 and local favourite Lleyton Hewitt in the next round.
Tsonga likewise wasted little time on court, overcoming Frederico Gil 6-2 6-2 6-2 in an hour and a half. The World No. 6 saved all six break points faced on serve whilst breaking Gil twice in each set to claim his 20th win in Melbourne.
Gil’s appearance in the third round was the first by any Portuguese player, but it is the Frenchman who progresses to a fourth round meeting with No. 24 seed Kei Nishikori of Japan or compatriot Julien Benneteau.
Andy Murray looked in fine form as he saw off the challenge of Michael Llodra to book his place in the Australian Open quarter finals, rounding off his straight sets victory with a sumptuous lob on a day that saw little trouble for the big guns down in Melbourne.
Murray and Llodra treated spectators to a contrast of styles on the blue hardcourt, with resolute serve-volleyer Llodra travelling instinctively to the net and challenging the Scot to pass him, a tactic which provided much excitement: both players made full use of the width and length of the court, forcing each other into last-ditch runs and pulling off tricks and flicks that had the crowd on their feet.
Llodra’s game looked far from out place in the first set as he three times had break point, yet it was Murray who made his break in the third game count – with another about-turn forehand for the cameras – and this proved enough to take the first set 6-4. The Scot was more than happy to indulge the unseeded Frenchman in his serve-volley game and seemed to relish their close net battles, Murray proving that he is more than adept at this style of play
Murray broke early in the second set and after Llodra had to receive treatment for a knee injury, the Scot looked to have the beating of his opponent as he took the second set 6-2. The Frenchman was still able to put up a fight and demand the best of his opponent, providing an equally entertaining second set; but soon his serve deserted him to be followed by his stamina, Murray taking the last set in straight games.
In the Women’s singles, number two seed Petra Kvitova progressed with ease of a different sort, thanks to opponent Maria Kirilenko having to retire early with the match at 6-0, 1-0.
The stunted scoreline perhaps flattered Kvitova as it soon became clear Kirilenko was suffering and could provide no match for the Wimbledon champion.
Kvitova was already 5 games to love up, and playing with the ease of a training match when Kirilenko had the court to receive medical attention – returning with a bandaged upper left leg but continuing for only two games more.
Kvitova goes on to face Ana Ivanovic, who defeated Vania King 6-3 6-4, in round four and will be joined by Maria Sharapova also who saw off Angelique Kerber 6-1, 6-2.
High hopes were held of 30th seed Kerber, but these looked to have gone out the window when the Russian broke her serve in the first game of the match.
It wasn’t until the second set that the German truly troubled Sharapova, emerging the victor from a nine-deuce impasse before saving break point in the next game to level the set 2-2.
Sharapova rose to the challenge however and claimed all the remaining games to set up a tie with Sabine Lisicki, who came for a set down to knock out Svetlana Kuznetsova 2-6 6-4 6-2.