Melbourne:Roger Federer's quest for a record 14th major got more compelling on Wednesday when he set up a third-round match with Marat Safin at the Australian Open.
Second-ranked Federer was dominating in a 6-2, 6-3, 6-1 victory over No. 118 Evgeny Korolev, needing just 86 minutes to move one step closer to equaling Pete Sampras' record for Grand Slam singles titles.
With Swiss flags scattered around Rod Laver Arena, Federer gave notice he was on top of his game with back-to-back aces in the first game.
Safin, who beat Federer in the semifinals here en route to winning the 2005 championship, beat Guillermo Garcia-Lopez of Spain 7-5, 6-2, 6-2.
"I'm happy to be playing Marat, we have fought some battles," Federer said. "We had the epic in 2005."
The mercurial Russian, who will turn 29 next week, saved a match point and won 9-7 in the fifth set of his semifinal against Federer four years ago. He is one of only two men who've beaten Federer in the last five Australian Open tournaments.
The other, defending champion Novak Djokovic, remained on course for a semifinal rematch with Federer when he beat Frenchman Jeremy Chardy 7-5, 6-1, 6-3.
Chardy matched the third-ranked Djokovic shot for shot before wilting while trying to force a tiebreaker in the first set.
Djokovic was dominating on his serve, faltering only when he was broken at love while serving for the match.
But he broke right back, finishing it off when Chardy netted a forehand on match point.
"I'm playing better and better which is very encouraging fact for me," Djokovic said. "I really stepped it up."
The 21-year-old Serb next faces Bosnian-born Amer Delic, of Jacksonville, Florida.
Delic, who got a spot in the draw as a lucky loser from qualifying when other players withdrew, rallied from two sets down to beat No. 28 Paul-Henri Mathieu of France 1-6, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (3), 9-7.
Delic beat American Taylor Dent in the first round, but his supporters attracted criticism from Dent's father Phil, a former Australian Davis Cup player, who complained about unruly behavior from flag-waving Bosnian fans.
Delic anticipated an emotion-charged environment against Djokovic, saying he'd appeal for calm among his supporters, and expected his Serb opponent to do the same.
Djokovic was ready for a tough reception on court.
"I don't want underestimate anybody. Delic deserves to be in the third round," he said. "If he came there, of course, he has a lot of qualities. He's a big server. We played in Wimbledon in 2007 and we had a really close match, so I expect the same in this third round."
Two of Djokovic's fellow Serbs advanced as expected on the women's side.
Fifth-seeded Ana Ivanovic beat Italian Alberta Brianti 6-3, 6-2 and top-ranked Jelena Jankovic advanced 6-4, 7-5 over Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium.
Jankovic, the only member of the top Serbian trio yet to win a major, needed a medical timeout for treatment on her right foot in the first set and was broken three times in a tougher-than-expected, 1-hour, 46-minute match.
Ivanovic lost the last Australian Open final to Maria Sharapova, then won her first Grand Slam title at the French Open and gained the No. 1 ranking.
Now seeded fifth, she is drawing inspiration from her last run here. Sharapova is not defending the title because of a shoulder injury.
"I was in this situation before French Open last year, coming into the tournament as pretty serious finalist," she said. "That experience will help me a lot to approach this Australian Open."
Dictating play and ripping winners into the corners, Ivanovic repeatedly took advantage of Brianti's weak serve. The 28-year-old Italian held serve only three times.
No. 169-ranked Brianti needed treatment for her lower back and took a medical time out after getting broken to fall behind 3-0 in the second set.
She returned to break Ivanovic's serve and held to pull back to 3-2, but lost the next three games. Ivanovic, pushing the limits with her shots, had the same number of winners as unforced errors (26).
She won 17 of her 27 net approaches, a sign she's growing in confidence moving forward.
"I improved a lot since last match. I was committing much more, coming to the net more often," she said, adding she still had plenty to improve.
"When you come against top players or high-ranked players, you automatically raise your level and your consistency. That's something that I can do."
Among the men's seeded players advancing were No. 11 David Ferrer of Spain, No. 15 Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland, No. 19 Marin Cilic of Croatia, No. 20 Tomas Berdych of Czech Republic, and No. 21 Tommy Robredo of Spain.
The main surprise of the day was Taiwan's Yen-hsun Lu beating No. 10 David Nalbandian 6-4, 5-7, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 in a match that approached four hours.
The Argentine had been in good form in the lead-up to the tournament, but was no match for his spirited opponent in the final set, and leaves still yet to win a grand slam event. It is the first time Lu has reached the third round of a grand slam event, at his 13th attempt.
American No. 23 Mardy Fish downed Italian Simone Bolelli 6-4, 6-1, 7-5.
In the women's draw, No. 3 Dinara Safina overcame 44 unforced errors in a 6-7 (3), 6-3, 6-0 win over fellow Russian Ekaterina Makarova and will next play No. 25 Kaie Kanepi of Estonia.
Safina, younger sister of Safin, lost to a qualifier in the first round here last year, but went on to be runner-up at the French Open, take the Olympic silver medal and reach the U.S. Open semifinals.
No. 10 Nadia Petrova had a 6-3, 6-2 win over India's Sania Mirza. No. 26 Ai Sugiyama of Japan defeated Nathalie Dechy of France 1-6, 6-1, 6-3 and next faces Jankovic.
Also advancing were No. 7 Vera Zvonareva of Russia, No. 15 Alize Cornet of France and No. 19 Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia.
In the doubles, second-ranked Bob and Mike Bryan opened with a 7-5, 6-3 win over Chile's Fernando Gonzalez and Mariano Hood of Argentina.
Serena and Venus Williams, the Beijing Olympics doubles gold medalists, had a 6-3, 6-1 win over Russian pair of Svetlana Kuznetsova and Nadia Petrova.