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Federer repeats Hungarian success; injured Djokovic out at Australian Open

Bill Scott, DPA on

Published in Tennis

MELBOURNE, Australia -- Roger Federer went back to the future on Monday at the Australian Open, beating Marton Fucsovics 6-4, 7-6 (7-3), 6-2 exactly 16 years after knocking out the Hungarian's coach early in his tennis career.

In 2002, the emerging Swiss, now holder of a record 19 Grand Slam titles, defeated Atilla Savolt in the Melbourne second round.

But there was a shock for six-time champion Novak Djokovic as the Serb fell to Korean prospect Chung Hyeon, 7-6 (7-4) 7-5, 7-6 (7-3).

Djokovic, who missed the last six months of 2017 with an elbow problems, said he felt the injury in defeat, while congratulating his Asian conqueror.

"He was a better player on the court tonight. He deserved to win, no question about it, Djokovic said. "Whenever he was in trouble, he came up with some unbelievable shots, passing shots. Just from the back of the court, you know, he was like a wall."

Djokovic termed his health as "not great, unfortunately."

He added: "At the end of the first set, it (elbow) started hurting more. I had to deal with it till the end of the match.

"It's disappointing to go out in the fourth round, but the circumstances are such. I have to accept it. That's the reality."

Federer has been a regular in the last eight at the Australian Open, playing quarterfinals in 13 of his last 14 appearances. It will be his 52nd career quarter at a major.

The 36-year-old broke to end the opening set and was equally comfortable as he won the second in a tiebreaker. Federer began the third with a break and increased the pressure with a smooth volley winner at the net to take victory in two hours.

The win came in Federer's first day match so far at this edition.

"I practiced with him (Fucsovics) for a few days in a row in Switzerland," Federer said. "That helped knowing his strength and weaknesses a little bit. He was not completely the unknown opponent.

"It's (the offseason training with the Hungarian) been a while. I didn't see his matches, I haven't watched him play much on TV.

"The goal for me was really trying to be focused on my own game and take it to him and play tough. But he hung with me for a long time. So it was a good match."

 

Federer will next take on old foe -- and punching bag -- Tomas Berdych, who stopped Italian Fabio Fognini 6-1, 6-4, 6-4 to reach the Australian last eight for the seventh time in eight years.

Federer stands an overwhelming 19-6 in the series, and has faced the Czech at the last two Melbourne editions. The Swiss has won their last six matches.

American Tennys Sandgren, a loser the last four years in qualifying, continued a spectacular debut with an upset of fifth seed Dominic Thiem 6-2, 4-6, 7-6 (7-4), 6-7 (7-9), 6-3.

The 26-year-old ranked 97 denied the Austrian a chance at his first Australian quarterfinal in a struggle of almost four hours.

On the women's side, top seed Simona Halep says she is paying no more attention to her injured ankle after defeating Japan's Naomi Osaka 6-3, 6-2 for a quarterfinal spot.

"It was way better match today. I'm really happy that I could find the rhythm back because is not easy when you are very tired," Halep said. "The ankle is still sore. But I'm not thinking about that any more. I saw that I can win matches with it, so now I'm not that worried any more."

Former Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber beat Taiwan's Hsieh Su-Wei 4-6, 7-5, 6-2.

The German, who won the title in 2016 and later that season earned the world No. 1 ranking, will play for the semis against U.S. Open finalist Madison Keys after the American stunned French eighth seed Caroline Garcia 6-3, 6-2.

Kerber's win ended Hsieh's hopes of knocking out a second Grand Slam champion at the event, after the 32-year-old defeated reigning Wimbledon winner Garbine Muguruza in the second round.

Kerber advanced in just over two hours with 31 winners and six breaks of serve from 13 chances against her 88th-ranked opponent.

(c)2018 Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH (Hamburg, Germany)

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