Melbourne, Australia: Roger Federer swept aside Grigor Dimitrov on Friday to become the first man to reach 300 Grand Slam wins and join Maria Sharapova in the fourth round of the Australian Open.
Federer, 34, dropped the second set against "Baby Fed", who has a similar game to the 17-time Grand Slam champion, before he got himself together and scorched into the first weekend.
Federer's 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 victory puts him just six Grand Slam wins away from Martina Navratilova's record of 306, and made him the oldest man to reach the round of 16 since Andre Agassi in 2005.
More importantly, he is a step closer to his fifth Australian Open title, a victory which would make him the oldest Grand Slam champion in 44 years.
"It is a little, from time to time," conceded Federer, when asked whether facing Dimitrov was like playing a mirror. "I try to play like I wouldn't want it and I play the wrong way sometimes."
A busy day of action helped take the focus off corruption claims which have overshadowed the year's first Grand Slam after a report said players had been suspected of fixing matches but never faced action.
Belgium's David Goffin awaits Federer in round four, after he beat Dominic Thiem 6-1, 3-6, 7-6 (7/2), 7-5 in a match which included a generous act of sportsmanship from the Austrian.
Thiem, leading in the second set, told the umpire to give a point to Goffin rather than replay it after a Hawk-Eye challenge found a shot from the Belgian had landed in.
Sharapova maintained her push for a second Australian Open title when she beat America's Lauren Davis, a full foot shorter than the Russian at 5ft 2ins (1.57m), 6-1, 6-7 (5/7), 6-0.
The world number five took a break and changed her dress after losing the second set and she came back revitalised and roared through the final set to reach 600 career wins.
"I was happy with the way I finished. I think I can take a lot of good things from that," said Sharapova, who faces Swiss teen Belinda Bencic in the next round.
Elsewhere, fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska reeled off nine straight games as she obliterated Monica Puig 6-4, 6-0, despite continuing pain from a left-leg injury which stopped her competing in Sydney last week.
And defending champion Serena Williams took to the court against Russia's Daria Kasatkina knowing there would be no rematch with Roberta Vinci, her shock conqueror at the US Open in September.
Vinci, whose stunning semi-final win halted Williams' bid for a calendar-year Grand Slam, was knocked out by Germany's Anna-Lena Friedsam in three sets.
In other matches, Japan's Kei Nishikori beat Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 7-5, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga ousted fellow Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert 6-4, 7-6 (9/7), 7-6 (7/4).
First Published On : Jan 22, 2016 16:41 IST