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Australian Open: Relieved Federer through after scare

Roger Federer finally overcame his nemesis Gilles Simon although it took him five enthralling sets to reach the third round of the Australian Open.

Simon came into the contest having beaten the world number two on their previous two meetings and he looked set to cause another huge upset when he hit back from two sets down to take it all the way.

But the Swiss, a record 16-time Grand Slam winner and defending champion in Melbourne, upped the tempo to squeeze through 6-2 6-3 4-6 4-6 6-3 and avoid his first exit at a Grand Slam before the third-round stage since the 2003 French Open.

The world number two set up a third-round clash with Belgian Xavier Malisse.

“He (Simon) is a great player,” said Federer.

“Matches against him don't come easy, every time we go the distance. Hopefully we won't play each other anymore.

“I am happy to get through, just keep moving on in the draw and try to find an opponent who suits me more.”

Novak Djokovic toiled before seeing off Croatian Ivan Dodig 7-5 6-7 (8/10) 6-0 6-2 in two hours and 21 minutes. Djokovic will play countryman Viktor Troicki next.

Fernando Verdasco netted a stunning victory over Janko Tipsarevic, eventually coming through 2-6 4-6 6-4 7-6 (7-0) 6-0.

Verdasco will now meet Kei Nishikori, the young Japanese beating Germany's Florian Mayer 6-4 6-3 0-6 6-3.

Andy Roddick, the eighth seed, saw off Igor Kunitsyn 7-6 (9/7) 6-2 6-3. Tomas Berdych needed four sets to beat Germany's Philipp Kohlschreiber 4-6 6-2 6-3 6-4, as did 17th seed Ivan Ljubicic in his 6-3 6-7 (2/7) 6-4 7-6 (7/5) win over Benoit Paire. Berdych will meet Frenchman Richard Gasquet next. Gasquet beat countryman Adrian Mannarino in straight sets.

Gael Monfils overcame Frederico Gil in four sets while Nicolas Almagro edged out Igor Andreev 7-5 in the fifth.

Mardy Fish is out after losing to Spain's Tommy Robredo 1-6 6-3 6-3 6-3 triumph.

Andy Murray will be in action this morning (8am) when he comes up against Ukrainian Illya Marchenko.

World number 79 Marchenko helped his country beat Great Britain in a Davis Cup tie in Glasgow in 2009.

Belfast Telegraph