Roger Federer celebrates after his win over Jan-Lennard Struff on Thursday. Photo: REUTERS/Thomas Peter

MELBOURNE - Defending champion Roger Federer advanced to the third round for the 19th straight Australian Open with an easy win over Germany's Jan-Lennard Struff on Thursday.

The Swiss second seed was too strong for the 55th-ranked Struff, reeling off a 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (7/4) victory in 1hr 55min in the night match on Rod Laver Arena.

The 19-time Grand Slam champion will face Frenchman Richard Gasquet in the third round on Saturday.

"I knew about him going in. I've practised with him, played singles and doubles against him too so you have the information you need," Federer said of his German opponent.

"You know he can serve 215-220 km/h no problem for five hours, that's what you are ready for and I knew he was going to go for his shots.

"So the focus was on me protecting my serve as well as I can and try to get a service break either by good defence or maybe he helps me out a little bit, and I think it was a bit of both."  

Federer improved his Australian Open record to 89-13.

The Swiss legend broke Struff's serve three times and lost his own once and made 36 winners and just 22 unforced error.

Federer said he was looking forward to playing long-time rival Gasquet.

"He has one of the best one-handed backhanders in the game, so I love playing the guy, he has great variation and moves to net, and he's a little old school and we've had some good matches over the years," Federer said.  

Gasquet beat Italy's Lorenzo Sonego 6-2, 6-2, 6-3 to book his place in the next round.

Federer is coming off an extraordinary 2017, when he won a fifth Australian Open title and a record eighth at Wimbledon, after returning from an injury lay-off.

It was in Melbourne a year ago where he lit the fuse on his late-life tennis renaissance, beating Tomas Berdych, Kei Nishikori, Mischa Zverev and Stan Wawrinka before downing great rival Rafael Nadal in a five-set final classic.

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