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Roger Federer slips into cruise control

Roger Federer was pleased with his progress — and his fitness — after cruising into the fourth round of the Australian Open.

The Swiss had to endure a tough five-setter against Gilles Simon on Wednesday night, but showed no ill-effects as he crushed Belgian Xavier Malisse for the loss of seven games on Rod Laver Arena.

Federer's heroics against Simon came 24 hours after David Nalbandian edged out Lleyton Hewitt in a similarly titanic struggle.

In Nalbandian's following match he lasted just over two sets before defaulting through exhaustion against Richard Berankis.

There was no chance of Federer following suit, the 16-time grand slam winner looking in great shape as he won 6-3 6-3 6-1 to set up a last-16 clash with Tommy Robredo, who overcame Sergiy Stakhovsky in four sets.

“I pulled up with no back problems after the match with Simon which, in the past, would have scared me a little bit,” he said.

“What with the cold conditions, a little bit of wind and with the sweat on the back and everything.

“But I was perfectly fine the same night, the next day and today. I'm happy with how my body is feeling and I'm moving well. That's obviously key to playing good tennis.”

Fitness concerns were the order of the day with Viktor Troicki and Robin Haase also suffering.

Haase was able to complete his match against Andy Roddick despite injuring an ankle early on but Troicki lasted just one set of his clash with countryman Novak Djokovic.

Holland's Haase bravely won the first set but once the American won the second-set tie-break there was only going to be one winner.

“Yeah, the breaker was pretty important,” said Roddick, who prevailed 2-6 7-6 (7/2) 6-2 6-2.

“It was pretty apparent that I needed to turn it. He blinked for a second for the first time in the day and I was able to turn it the way I wanted it to go.”

Next up for Roddick is Stanislas Wawrinka, who edged a close opening set before defeating 12th seed Gael Monfils, 7-6 6-2 6-3.

Belfast Telegraph

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