MELBOURNE, Jan 21: Roger Federer delivered another stinging lesson to the next generation of men’s tennis at the Australian Open on Monday, mauling Canadian Milos Raonic in straight sets to extend his record to a 35th consecutive Grand Slam quarter-final.
Federer completed his 6-4, 7-6, 6-2 masterclass in less than two hours under the lights of Rod Laver Arena, where defending champion Novak Djokovic had toiled for five in a huge scare against another Swiss, Stanislas Wawrinka, the night before.
Federer’s emphatic win followed Serena Williams’s 6-2, 6-0 demolition of Maria Kirilenko, which set up her own generational battle with teenager Sloane Stephens.
Serena needed a measly 57 minutes to secure her 35th Grand Slam quarter-final, and will face another woman in a hurry in teenager Stephens.
The wise-cracking 19-year-old has been touted as an heir to the 15-time Grand Slam champion Williams and bolstered her credentials with a poised 6-1, 3-6, 7-5 win over Serbia’s Bojana Jovanovski in the afternoon sun at Hisense Arena.
“I don’t know. I mean, I would need a better definition of the word ‘mentor’,” the 31-year-old told reporters. “It’s hard to be a real mentor when you’re still in competition.”
Britain’s Andy Murray has not lost a set at Melbourne Park and derived little joy from his 6-1, 6-3, 6-1 clobbering of shattered 14th seed Simon, with the Frenchman reduced to a staggering wreck in the closing stages.
Simon had been exhausted by compatriot Gael Monfils in a five-set marathon in his previous match and could do little more than stick out his racket and hope as he slumped to his 10th straight loss to the Scot.
The monotoned Murray has made an art form of sounding unexcited about rollicking victories, but struck a new depth of melancholy as he lamented the lack of competition at his post-match media conference.
Four Frenchmen advanced to the last 16 at Melbourne Park for the first time since 1998 and 36th-ranked Chardy kept the tricolore flag waving with a 5-7, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 win over 21st seeded Italian Andreas Seppi to continue his fairytale run.
That secured Chardy’s maiden Grand Slam quarter-final and ensured France would have two men in the last-eight round, with seventh seed Tsonga grinding down ninth-seeded compatriot Richard Gasquet 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2.Unfancied and unseeded, the scruffy-bearded Chardy stunned sixth seed Juan Martin del Potro in his previous match and said he had nothing to lose against Murray, who he beat in straight sets in Cincinnati last year after losing all four of their previous matches.
World No 1 Victoria Azarenka was back at her ruthless best in a 6-1, 6-1 demolition of 47th-ranked Russian Elena Vesnina after being taken the distance in her previous match by American Jamie Hampton.
She faces a stiffer challenge in the quarter-finals against another Russian in Svetlana Kuznetsova, who sent 10th seed Caroline Wozniacki spinning out of the tournament and out of the top 10 when the next round of rankings are released.
Kuznetsova, the 2004 US Open champion and winner at Roland Garros in 2009, spent much of last year on crutches with a knee injury, and was thrilled to secure her third quarter-final at Melbourne Park.
Results (prefix number denotes seeding):
Fourth round: 2-Roger Federer (Switzerland) bt 13-Milos Raonic (Canada) 6-4, 7-6 (7-4), 6-2; 3-Andy Murray (Britain) bt 14-Gilles Simon (France) 6-3, 6-1, 6-3; 7-Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (France) bt 9-Richard Gasquet (France) 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2; Jeremy Chardy (France) bt 21-Andreas Seppi (Italy) 5-7, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2.
Fourth round: 3-Serena Williams (US) bt 14-Maria Kirilenko (Russia) 6-2, 6-0; 29-Sloane Stephens (US) bt Bojana Jovanovski (Serbia) 6-1, 3-6, 7-5; 1-Victoria Azarenka (Belarus) bt Elena Vesnina (Russia) 6-1, 6-1; Svetlana Kuznetsova (Russia) bt 10-Caroline Wozniacki (Denmark) 6-2, 2-6, 7-5.—Reuters