Fed Express steams on at Aussie Open

Roger Federer claimed his 16th consecutive match win at the Australian Open with a carefree straight sets win over French veteran Fabrice Santoro.

updated: January 28, 2008 15:41 IST
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Top seed Roger Federer claimed his 16th consecutive match win at the Australian Open with a carefree straight sets win over French veteran Fabrice Santoro on Thursday.

The Swiss supremo countered the wiles of the 35-year-old Santoro, playing in a record 62nd Grand Slam, to cruise into the third round 6-1, 6-2, 6-0 in one hour and 22 minutes.

Federer, bidding for his 13th Grand Slam title, will take on Serbian Davis Cup team member Janko Tipsarevic in the next round.

"I always enjoy playing a match against Fabrice," Federer said. "In the first match I played against him he totally dismantled me, he can really show where he could hurt you.

"It was a pleasure to play, more so because of the score, but also for the way the game and the spirit in which it was played.

"He does a great job in making you doubt at times."

The victory stretched Federer's record over the 36th-ranked Santoro to 9-2 with four of his last five wins coming in Grand Slam tournaments.

Santoro, a rarity in modern men's tennis with his sliced forehand and clever use of angles, could only marvel and shake his head at times at the phenomenal shot-making of Federer.

Federer has been unrivalled as world number one since February 2004 and has won three of last year's four Grand Slams for the third time in four years.

But Federer comes into the Australian Open for the first time since 2004 Wimbledon with his top ranking under threat.

He could lose the position he has held with a record 207 consecutive weeks if he fails to reach the semi-finals and world number two Rafael Nadal goes on to win the Australian title.

Santoro's serve came under early pressure and the Frenchman was broken twice in the fourth and sixth games as Federer dominated with his groundstrokes.

He wrapped up the opening set in just 23 minutes, winning 27 points to Santoro's 12.

Again Santoro's service was broken in the opening game of the second set on Federer's fourth break point with it becoming apparent that Santoro didn't have the weapons to threaten the world number one.

But he delighted the crowd with his retrieving ability, scurrying around the back court and keeping the ball in play, some through his legs, for Federer to usually come up with the winner.

Santoro had a glimmer of opportunity with two break points in the second game, but the top seed denied him with consecutive aces to hold serve.

Federer broke Santoro's serve for a fourth time to lead 4-1 and had set point but the Frenchman fought it off in the seventh game.

The Swiss simply reeled off a love game and sealed the set with an ace.

Santoro was largely spent into the third set and dropped his opening two service games as Federer surged to victory without losing a game.