at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
Melbourne – Grand Slam record-holder Roger Federer says he is feeling fresh and back in form as he reached the Australian Open's business end with a comfortable win over Teymuraz Gabashvili Saturday.
The Swiss great, chasing his fifth Australian crown, made the round of 16 at Melbourne for the 13th straight year after an unruffled 6-2, 6-2, 6-3 win over the unseeded Russian in one hour 41 minutes.
It was his 71st match victory at Melbourne Park, extending his record at the Australian Open, and set up a clash against either 2008 finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga or fellow Frenchman Gilles Simon.
The 17-time Grand Slam champion said he was over the back pain that dogged him last year and was in good shape heading into the second week, with battles looming against his main rivals.
“Right now I feel very fresh and very good physically,” Federer said.
“That's why I do a lot of prevention work. You make sure you sleep enough and do all these things. You eat healthy and so forth. But it's been a good spell now.
“I didn't have any setbacks since Hamburg (last July) really, and that's very good looking forward.”
It was a confident Federer performance against the 79th-ranked Russian as the stylish Swiss looks to become the second man after Australia's Roy Emerson to win five Australian Open singles titles.
“I'm happy that from my side I'm winning my matches in straight sets,” he said.
“It's just good to get through and get a good feel out there, and if you've got a chance to win your matches easier, to do so.”
He broke Gabashvili's service five times and did not lose a serve, while hitting 35 winners with 18 unforced errors.
“I had to work for it. Once I got the lead, then I was able to stretch. It was an interesting match. I had to defend much more than I had to in my previous match,” he said.
“It was a totally different opponent. It was in a way a tricky match today.
“Now the draw is getting extremely difficult, regardless of whether it is Jo-Wilfried or Gilles, but I'm looking forward to it... I've done the work and haven't lost a set so far.
“I know that Simon and Tsonga are going to be tough opponents, and it's just now up to me to bring it in the next match.” – Sapa-AFP