Roger Federer cruises into fourth round at Australian Open

ByESPN.com news services
January 18, 2019, 2:36 AM

MELBOURNE, Australia -- Roger Federer has played in Rod Laver Arena a hundred times and has six Australian Open crowns in his collection of 20 Grand Slam titles.

The 37-year-old tennis statesman has developed a loyal following over 20 consecutive visits for the season-opening major.

After beating 21-year-old American Taylor Fritz 6-2, 7-5, 6-2 on Friday on the center court at Melbourne Park, and reaching the round of 16 at a Grand Slam tournament for the 63rd time, he raised his racket to the crowd. It was not unlike what a batter scoring a century would do to acknowledge 100 at the nearby Melbourne Cricket Ground.

He'll next play 20-year-old Stefanos Tsitsipas, who draws a big, vocal crowd to Melbourne Park.

"I think I wanted to get out of the blocks quickly. I knew of the threat of Taylor," said Federer, who has won 97 of his 110 matches overall at Melbourne Park. "I think I had extra focus today."

Tsitsipas had a 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (7), 6-4 win over Nikoloz Basilashvili earlier on Margaret Court Arena to become the first Greek man to reach the fourth round at multiple majors. He reached the same round at Wimbledon last year.

Big sections of Greeks sang and waved the blue and white flag and scarves in the crowd. Melbourne has the highest concentration of Greek people of any city outside of Greece, and is getting a lot of attention.

"I'm delighted," he said. "I feel so comfortable. I feel like playing at home.

"It's exciting to have such an atmosphere. I never get to play with so many Greek people supporting me ... and, and, and, Australians!"

Rafael Nadal gave local hope  Alex de Minaur another tennis lesson with a 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 win in the third round.

The last time the pair met at a Grand Slam, at Wimbledon last year, Nadal won by the same score.

De Minaur came into the Australian Open on a high having won the Sydney International last week but was outclassed by Nadal, who will play Tomas Berdych in the fourth round.

It was Nadal's third match in a row against Australians this tournament, having beaten James Duckworth and Matthew Ebden in the first two rounds.

"Even playing against an Australian like Alex, I feel like the crowd -- some part of the crowd -- is with me!," Nadal, the 2009 Australian Open champion, said.

Berdych, a 2010 Wimbledon finalist, beat No. 18-seeded Diego Schwartzman 5-7, 6-3, 7-5, 6-4. Berdych has reached the quarterfinals or better in seven of his previous eight trips to Melbourne Park.

In other men's third-round matches, American Frances Tiafoe rallied to defeat Andreas Seppi 6-7 (3), 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3. Tiafoe advances to the Round of 16 at a Grand Slam for the first time in his career and faces No. 20 Grigor Dimitrov, who topped Thomas Fabbiano 7-6 (5), 6-4, 6-4 earlier Friday. 

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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