Oz Open: Djokovic routs birthday boy Mahut 6-0, 6-1, 6-1
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Last Updated: Saturday, January 21, 2012, 11:17
  
Oz Open: Djokovic routs birthday boy Mahut 6-0, 6-1, 6-1
Melbourne: Novak Djokovic gave Nicolas Mahut one lousy birthday present. Djokovic routed the Frenchman on his 30th birthday, winning 6-0, 6-1, 6-1 on Saturday to advance to the fourth round of the Australian Open.

Top-seeded Djokovic needed only 1 hour, 14 minutes to move past Mahut, who lost the longest match in Grand Slam history at 11 hours, 5 minutes against John Isner at Wimbledon in 2010.

"I wish him happy birthday and hopefully tonight he can enjoy it," Djokovic said.

The defending champion is aiming to become the fifth man in the Open era to win three straight Grand Slam titles. He will play Milos Raonic or Lleyton Hewitt in the fourth round.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, whom Djokovic beat at Melbourne Park for his first Grand Slam title in 2008, also hardly broke a sweat in beating Frederico Gil of Portugal 6-2, 6-2, 6-2.

On the women`s side, two Wimbledon winners — Petra Kvitova and Maria Sharapova — advanced, but two top-10 players were eliminated.

Seventh-seeded Vera Zvonareva lost 7-6 (7), 6-1 to fellow Russian Ekaterina Makerova. No. 9 Marion Bartoli fell 6-3, 6-3 against Zheng Jie of China, a former Australian Open semifinalist.

Sharapova was tested for the first time, but still emerged with a 6-1, 6-2 win over Germany`s Angelique Kerber.

The 2008 champion has lost five games in reaching the fourth round. She won her first two matches 6-0, 6-1 despite not playing any warmup tournaments because of an ankle injury.

The scoreline on Saturday made it look easy enough for Sharapova, but she was pushed during a 56-minute second set, with many games going to deuce.

After clinching the victory with a forehand winner, Sharapova showed her relief by clenching her fist and screeching "Come on."

"She certainly stepped up in the second set," Sharapova said. "She reached the semifinals at the US Open last year so she`s been on the big stage before and I knew she could produce some really good tennis."

Sharapova and Kvitova both have a chance of claiming the No. 1 ranking at the end of the tournament. They could play each other in the semifinals, although Kvitova insisted she hasn`t looked that far ahead.

"I don`t know who lost and who win," the Wimbledon champion said. "No, really, for me doesn`t care."

Kvitova reached the round of 16 when Maria Kirilenko retired with a left thigh injury while trailing 6-0, 1-0 after 38 minutes of their third-round match.

Kvitova next faces Ana Ivanovic, who beat unseeded American Vania King 6-3, 6-4 to reach the fourth round for the first time since she reached the final here in 2008.

That was the same year the 24-year-old Serb won the French Open for her only Grand Slam title, and also claimed the top ranking.

King`s loss left Serena Williams as the only American player left in the singles draws after John Isner`s loss to Feliciano Lopez in five sets on Friday ended any hope of a men`s champion from the United States.

Five-time champion Williams, hoping to win her 17th straight match at Melbourne Park, was scheduled to play Greta Arn of Hungary on Saturday.

Djokovic was ruthless against Mahut, who seemed to be struggling with his movement. When the Frenchman won his first game early in the second set, he stretched his arms out to welcome a huge cheer from the crowd as he walked back to the service line.

Djokovic hardly made a mistake as he won 11 of the next 12 games and finished with eight unforced errors.

Six Frenchmen reached the third round, and Tsonga wasted hardly any time while becoming the first of them to move into the round of 16.

The 2008 finalist took six of his seven break-point opportunities and saved all five against him.

"I had to take it seriously and this is what I did. I`m just really happy to go through," said Tsonga, who next plays fellow Frenchman Julien Benneteau or Kei Nishikori of Japan.

On the other half the draw, No. 2 Rafael Nadal had a 6-2, 6-4, 6-2 win over Lukas Lacko. Apart from having his right knee heavily taped, he showed no sign of pain from the bizarre injury — he hurt his knee while sitting in a chair at his hotel — that made him think he might miss this tournament.

"The knee is fine ... being in the fourth round without losing a set, it`s fantastic news," he said.

Roger Federer followed with an almost flawless performance in a 7-6 (6), 7-5, 6-3 win over 6-foot-10 Croatian Ivo Karlovic. Federer will play Australian teenager Bernard Tomic on Sunday.

Tomic, a Wimbledon quarterfinalist last year, had a tough 4-6, 7-6 (0), 7-6 (6), 2-6, 6-3 win over 13th-seeded Alexandr Dolgopolov of Ukraine.

An early rematch of last year`s women`s final is already in place, with defending champion Kim Clijsters and Li Na both winning Friday night to set up a meeting in the fourth round.

Clijsters advanced with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Daniela Hantuchova. Li didn`t even finish four games before Anabel Medina Garrigues quit with a badly sprained right ankle.

Medina Garrigues twisted her right ankle in the second game and needed treatment on the court. Li won the first three games and had taken the first two points in the fourth game on Medina Garrigues` serve when the Spaniard hit the ball into the air with her racket. She then went — in tears — to the net to retire.

The winner of the Clijsters-Li match will likely face a quarterfinal against top-seeded Caroline Wozniacki, who has not dropped a set in advancing to the fourth round as she continues her quest for a first Grand Slam title. She beat Monica Niculescu of Romania 6-2, 6-2, while third-seeded Victoria Azarenka defeated Mona Barthel 6-2, 6-4.

Wozniacki will next play former No. 1 Jelena Jankovic, who beat Christina McHale of the U.S. 6-2, 6-0.

Bureau Report

First Published: Saturday, January 21, 2012, 11:17


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