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Tennis | Australian Open

Djokovic lays down marker, Anderson through

Novak Djokovic remained on track to defend his Australian Open title with another dominant win to reach the fourth round as South African Kevin Anderson scored an upset on Friday.

Two-time defending champion Djokovic was untroubled to serve his way into the last 16 with a straight sets win over never-say-die Czech Radek Stepanek.

Out on Hisense Court, Anderson, just outside the seedings, eliminated 22nd seed Fernando Verdasco in five sets to earn a crack at either Czech fifth seed Tomas Berdych or Austrian Jurgen Melzer in the fourth round.

World No 1 Djokovic, bidding for his fourth Australian crown, didn't allow Stepanek a look in as he completed a 6-4, 6-3, 7-5 victory in an entertaining 2hr 22min on Rod Laver Arena.

Djokovic has yet to drop serve in three dominating wins at this year's Open and has only had five break points against him in 43 service games.

The top seed will next face either American 20th seed Sam Querrey or Swiss 15th seed Stanislas Wawrinka in the round of 16 on Sunday.

"Radek loves the big stage. You saw how much fun he had. I also had a lot of fun playing. It was a very entertaining match," he said.

"It was three close sets. I felt that I had much more chances on his serve than he had on my serve."

Stepanek, the hero of the Czech Republic's Davis Cup final triumph over Spain last November, kept charging in at Djokovic and ventured to the net 67 times to try to seize the initiative.

"I have respect for him because he's a fighter, he's a competitor, and somebody that is one of the rare players who comes to the net nowadays and mixes up his style of the game," said Djokovic, whose 37 winners to 19 unforced efforts ratio underlined his form.

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Anderson, who lost to Australian Bernard Tomic in last weekend's Sydney International final, is bidding to emulate fellow South African Wayne Ferreira, who reached the semifinals here in 2003.

He needed 3hr 46min before subduing the big-hitting Verdasco 4-6, 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (7/4), 6-2 for his first win in three encounters with the Spaniard.

Elsewhere, Japan's 16th seed Kei Nishikori kept on the winning trail for a 7-6 (7/3), 6-2, 6-3 victory over Russian Evgeny Donskoy in 2hr 6min.

Serbian eighth seed Janko Tipsarevic was taken to his second consecutive five-setter before overcoming Frenchman Julien Benneteau and will next face Spanish 10th seed Nicolas Almagro in the last 16.

Almagro ended Polish 24th seed Jerzy Janowicz's tournament, winning in three hard-fought sets.

Spain's fourth seed David Ferrer ended the Australian Open hopes of Marcos Baghdatis, thrashing the Cypriot to make the fourth round.

Ferrer, coming off a career-best season, won 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 on Rod Laver Arena and next faces Japanese 16th seed Kei Nishikori.

The consistent and super-fit Spaniard was a class above the 28th-seeded Baghdatis, who was a Melbourne Park finalist in 2006 but has never revisited those heights.

Ferrer, elevated to No 4 seed following the withdrawal of last year's finalist Rafael Nadal, used his superior service game and sizzling groundstrokes to unsettle the Cypriot early on.

He got a quick break in the first set and while Baghdatis managed to claw back and keep himself in touch, once the opening set was lost he never looked like recovering.

Ferrer, who made the quarters here last year and the semis in 2011, drew 42 unforced errors out of his erratic opponent to close out the match in just 1hr 57 mins.


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