MELBOURNE, Australia — Defending champion Roger Federer matched Jimmy Connors‘ record for consecutive Grand Slam quarterfinals appearances, beating Tommy Robredo 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 on Sunday in the Australian Open.
Federer has reached the quarterfinals in 27 consecutive majors since a third-round loss in the 2004 French Open to tie Connors’ Open-era record.
The 16-time Grand Slam winner didn’t concede a point on serve in the first set, but had a lapse in the second when Robredo’s serve was dominant and he took a set off Federer for only the third time in 10 matches.
“I was struggling with my return – I couldn’t get the balls into play I wanted to,” Federer said. “I didn’t have the best of games at 4-3 down – we don’t have much margin at the very top and it shows.”
Federer regained control in the third set and dominated after getting an early break to lead 2-0.
“It’s a lot of hard work. I’m sweating bullets right now,” he said. “I’m excited to be in the next round.”
Federer is trying to become only the second man to win five Australian Open titles.
Third-ranked Djokovic is aiming for his second Australian crown. The 2008 champion advanced to the quarterfinals for the 13th time in the last 15 majors with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-0 victory over No. 14 Nicolas Almagro. He will face 2010 Wimbledon finalist Tomas Berdych, who beat Fernando Verdasco 6-4, 6-2, 6-3.
Caroline Wozniacki moved into the women’s quarterfinals with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Anastasija Sevastova and is a victory from ensuring she’ll retain the top ranking.
The 20-year-old Dane, playing her first major as world No. 1, reached the quarterfinals at Melbourne Park for the first time. She can keep her top ranking with an appearance in the semis.
The questions about Wozniacki’s worthiness of the top ranking are starting to diminish. Asked which player she feared most, she said: “I don’t fear anyone, actually.”
“I’m feeling confident. I feel like I can beat anyone on a good day. I think they have to fear me when they’re playing me,” she said. “I just go out there and do my best. If they’re better than me that day, it’s just too good.”
Wozniacki lost three of the first four games of the match before reeling off six in a row, including a break in the first game of the second set. Sevastova, ranked No. 46, rallied and the pair traded breaks until Wozniacki regained control.
Wozniacki has reached the quarterfinals at all four majors, and she has navigated some troublesome ground. According to the WTA, only one of the last five women to be ranked No. 1 went beyond the first round in the first major they played with the top ranking.
Li Na, already China’s most successful player, reached the quarterfinals with a 6-3, 6-3 win over eighth-seeded Victoria Azarenka of Belarus.
The ninth-seeded Li was one of two Chinese players to reach the semifinals at Melbourne Park last year, her run ending with a loss to eventual champion Serena Williams in two tiebreak sets.
While Wozniacki says she’s not scared of any of her fellow players, she did use part of her post-match press conference to describe an up-close encounter with a baby kangaroo that had scarred her.
She said she tried to pet the kangaroo and it scratched her, and noted she had seen a doctor and rejected advice to get stitches.
But she later tweeted: “Round 2 with the media:) hope you enjoyed my kangaroo story, hope you know i was just kidding:) see you on tuesday for round 3!”
The WTA confirmed Wozniacki had told them the kangaroo story wasn’t true. Perhaps she hasn’t heard the fable about the shepherd boy and the wolf.
On the men’s side, Rafael Nadal kept alive his bid for a “Rafa Slam” and ended Australia’s last hope in the tournament, beating 18-year-old wild card Bernard Tomic 6-2, 7-5, 6-3 in the third round on Saturday.
He extended his Grand Slam winning streak to 24 matches, but said he’s not feeling in peak shape. He is feeling the lingering effects of an illness that slowed him at the start of the year, and is sweating and feeling more tired than usual during matches.
“I was perfect when I started the season. I was playing perfect and I was feeling perfect physically,” Nadal said. “In Doha, I had that problem. I wasn’t feel very well. Have fever and these things.
“Seems like after that my body is still not perfect.”
It hasn’t been a good tournament for any of the countries that host the four majors. All the Australian and French players were out of singles contention by the end of the third round. Andy Murray is the only Brit still in the competition and John Isner’s 4-6, 6-2, 6-7 (5), 7-6 (2), 9-7 loss to No. 15 Marin Cilic late Saturday left Andy Roddick as the only American in the tournament.
Roddick played 19th-seeded Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland in the fourth round Sunday night.
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