Australian Open 2018: Federer sweeps past Gasquet to reach round four

Australian Open 2018: Federer sweeps past Gasquet to reach round four

The defending champion will play unseeded Hungarian Marton Fucsovics next after reaching the last 16 without dropping a set.

Joe Nicholson

Roger Federer reached the fourth round of the Australian Open without dropping a set after dismissing Frenchman Richard Gasquet on Saturday night.

Federer, the defending champion in Melbourne, was given his toughest test of the tournament against the world number 31 but still came through comfortably, winning 6-2 7-5 6-4.

The Swiss was at his scintillating best for the majority of the first two sets, and despite a rare lapse in concentration at the end of the third, he came through unscathed.

Next up for Federer is a last 16 clash with Hungarian world number 80 Marton Fucsovics, who had never been past the first round of a major before this event.

The crowd on the Rod Laver Arena were treated to some pleasing exchanges, as Federer and Gasquet traded their eloquent single-handed backhands for an hour and 59 minutes.

Even so, the result was never really in doubt despite a late Gasquet revival, and the Frenchman was unlucky when his approach shot on match point clipped the net, presenting Federer with a simple put away.




"Expectations are different this year"

"My head is still spinning from the match point, where I got so lucky,” said Federer in his on-court interview.

“I was able to maybe stay a little more on the offensive than he was. The second set was tight, the match was close and the end could have gone to a tie-break.

"Expectations are different this year, which is a good thing. I'm coming in this year very fit,” added Federer who was the 17th seed here last year.

On Fucsovics, he said: "I know him a little bit. He came to Switzerland to train with me for a week. He was great - super nice guy, hard-working and I'm really happy for him. He's having a great run here. He's a great baseliner, very strong, so I'm happy I know him a little bit."









Impeccable serving from the Swiss

Gasquet, 31, isn’t the only player with a miserable head-to-head record against the Swiss, winning just two of their 18 meetings.

More significantly, the Frenchman hadn’t won a set in his last eight matches against Federer, with his two wins both coming on clay in Monte Carlo (2005) and Rome (2011).

The pattern looked set to continue when Federer broke for 3-1 with a crushing forehand return.

Gasquet never got a look in after that, with Federer winning 100 per cent of the points behind his first serve in the opening set.

At 5-2, the Swiss ripped a couple of exquisite backhand winners down the line to earn three set points on the Gasquet serve.

The Frenchman double faulted on the second to concede the opener in 27 minutes.

Gasquet was more competitive, though, with his first serve percentage rising to a commendable 72 per cent.




Too little too late from Gasquet

He finally made inroads on the Federer serve at 3-3 in the second, when the Swiss missed a first delivery at 30-30.

With his second attempt, the Swiss hit an ace which Gasquet wanted to challenge, however the Hawkeye system had temporarily crashed.

Gasquet stayed in touch before surrendering his serve at 6-5 which saw Federer take a two-set lead.

After racing to a 4-1 lead in the third, Federer’s place in the fourth round appeared all but set, however a couple of uncharacteristic errors let the Frenchman back in.

The Swiss lost the next three games but spared the unpredictably of a tie break, converting his third match point after a touch of fortune.