Federer matches Connors with Australian Open win


Roger Federer reached his 27th consecutive Grand Slam quarter-final at the Australian Open, equalling US great Jimmy Connors’ record, as Novak Djokovic maintained his impressive form.

On a sweltering Rod Laver Arena, defending champion Federer dropped only his third set against Tommy Robredo in 11 matches before winning 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 to set up a clash with countryman Stanislas Wawrinka or Andy Roddick.

Federer, who last failed to reach a Grand Slam last eight at the 2004 French Open, is gunning for his fifth Australian Open and his 17th major crown, and the chance to stop Rafael Nadal sweeping all of tennis’s big four titles.

The 29-year-old Swiss, who was taken to five gripping sets by Gilles Simon in the second round, again suffered a mid-match lapse before recovering his famous poise.

“Tommy makes you work extremely hard, he has a great forehand and I’m sweating bullets, and happy the match is over,” Federer said.

Women’s number one Caroline Wozniacki reached the quarter-finals for the first time when she cruised past unseeded Latvian Anastasija Sevastova 6-3, 6-4, maintaining her hopes of a maiden Grand Slam win.

China’s Li Na beat Victoria Azarenka 6-3, 6-3 Sunday to reach her second successive quarter-final at Melbourne Park and ratchet up hopes of claiming her country’s first-ever major singles title.

“This is a dream for me. I mean, until now I’m still just following the dream,” Li said. “Like last year, I need two more steps. So hopefully this year I can do better.”

Glamorous Russian Maria Sharapova, who won the title in 2008 but has since struggled with a shoulder injury, plays Germany’s Andrea Petkovic later and French Open champion Francesca Schiavone faces Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova.

Meanwhile Djokovic, the men’s winner in 2008, was in dazzling form as he destroyed Spain’s Nicolas Almagro 6-3, 6-4, 6-0 in 1hr 44min, reaching his fourth straight Australian Open quarter-final.

“That was a higher standard than my previous matches and it’s a big positive for me heading into the quarter-finals,” Djokovic said.

Djokovic will play Tomas Berdych for a place in the semi-finals after the Czech was an easy winner 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 against Fernando Verdasco of Spain.

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