Federer outlasts Simon at Aussie Open

Roger Federer reacts after winning against Gilles Simon at the Australian Open on Wednesday....

Roger Federer reacts after winning against Gilles Simon at the Australian Open on Wednesday. (REUTERS/David Gray)

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, Last Updated: 11:42 AM ET

MELBOURNE, Australia -- Roger Federer needed five sets to win his second-round match Wednesday at the Australian Open, while Novak Djokovic and Andy Roddick also advanced with victories.

Federer had a difficult test against Gilles Simon, having never beaten the Frenchman in two previous meetings. The four-time Aussie Open champ appeared to be on his way to an easy victory after claiming the first two sets, but Simon battled back and forced it to go the distance before Federer finally prevailed with a 6-2, 6-3, 4-6, 4-6, 6-3 triumph.

Djokovic moved on with a 7-5, 6-7 (6-8), 6-0, 6-2 win against Croatia's Ivan Dodig, while Roddick battled through a first-set tiebreaker and cruised from there to post a 7-6 (9-7), 6-2, 6-3 win over Russian Igor Kunitsyn.

Other seeded winners on Day 3 included Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic, Spaniards Fernando Verdasco and Nicolas Almagro, and Frenchmen Gael Monfils and Richard Gasquet. American Mardy Fish, the 16th seed, was eliminated by former top-10 Spaniard Tommy Robredo.

Federer entered the final match of the night at Rod Laver Arena determined to change his luck against Simon and ripped through the first two sets in just 68 minutes. Things began to go Simon's way in the third.

Simon broke twice in the first three games for a 3-0 lead, but Federer broke twice and had his serve broken once more as the Frenchman held on to win it. There was just one break of serve in the fourth set and Simon claimed it to force a deciding fifth.

Federer had to battle back from a 0-30 deficit to win the third game of the fifth for a 2-1 lead, then gained a break point in the sixth game and converted to take a 4-2 edge. He drew Simon in with a short ball and the Frenchman tried to drop a shot just over the net, but Federer easily got there and sent a pass down the line.

After holding serve for a 5-2 edge, Federer won the first three points of the next game for three match points. Simon saved all three and won the next two points to force Federer to serve for the match. Simon made Federer work for it, taking the game to deuce by saving another match point when the Swiss superstar tried a drop shot from the baseline. The ball hit the top of the net and fell on Federer's side.

Federer soon after gained his fifth match point with a backhand volley at the net and finally closed it out with an ace.

"Matches against him don't come easy, it's the first win I've had against him," said Federer after the match. "I wasn't playing poorly either to lose the third and fourth set, I really think Gilles took it to me, but you remain positive. I'm happy I won and I'm still in the tournament."

Federer hasn't lost a best-of-five setter when leading 2-0, improving to 166-0 in such matches. He also avoided his earliest exit at a Grand Slam event since a first-round loss at the 2003 French Open.

Next up for the 16-time Grand Slam champ is Belgian Xavier Malisse, who dropped a mere five games in a rout of Spaniard Albert Montanes.

Djokovic had to play more than three hours to advance past Dodig and will next face fellow Serb Viktor Troicki, who also prevailed in four sets against Frenchman Nicolas Mahut. Djokovic and Troicki helped Serbia to its first Davis Cup crown in December.

"We know each other very, very [well] from the Davis Cup and from junior days," said Djokovic. "We grew up playing tennis. So it's going to be a tough third round definitely for both of us."

Roddick's victory on Wednesday propelled him into the third round of the Aussie Open for the ninth straight year. He's never won the title, however, reaching the semifinals four times, and last year was beaten in the quarters. The American star could face Federer in this year's quarterfinals, but first will have to beat Holland's Robin Haase in the third round.

"I feel like I'm hitting the ball fine. I'm serving very well," said Roddick, who saved a pair of set points in the first-set tiebreak and held serve throughout the match. "You know, kind of controlling the match with that right now. That's always a good thing for me."

The sixth-seeded Berdych rallied after dropping the first set and finished off Germany's Philipp Kohlschreiber in four to set up a third-round match against Gasquet, who beat fellow Frenchman Adrian Mannarino in three.

Verdasco, the ninth seed, pulled off a stunning comeback from two sets down against Serbia's Janko Tipsarevic, saving four match points, and will next meet Japan's Kei Nishikori. The 14th-seeded Almagro also went five to dispose of Russia's Igor Andreev and will next take on Croatian veteran Ivan Ljubicic, a four-set winner against French wild card Benoit Paire.

The 12th-seeded Monfils knocked off Portugal's Frederico Gil in four sets and will face Switzerland's Stanislas Wawrinka in the third round. Wawrinka moved on with a three-set win against Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov.

Robredo, a quarterfinalist at Melbourne Park in 2007 who reached as high as No. 5 in the world back in 2006, has dropped to 51st. Still dangerous, he knocked out Fish with a 1-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 victory and will meet Sergiy Stakhovsky in the third round after the Ukrainian took out Poland's Lukasz Kobot in straight sets.

Thursday's second-round schedule will feature matches for world No. 1 Rafael Nadal, French Open runner-up Robin Soderling and 2010 Aussie Open runner-up Andy Murray. The nine-time major champion Nadal will meet American Ryan Sweeting.

Nadal, the reigning U.S. Open, Wimbledon and French Open champion who captured his lone Aussie Open championship in 2009 by beating Federer in the finale, is trying to become the first man in 42 years to win four consecutive Grand Slam titles. Aussie legend Rod Laver won all four majors, for a true Grand Slam, way back in 1969. Laver also captured all four Slams in the same year in 1962.

The fourth-seeded Soderling will meet qualifier Gilles Muller of Luxembourg on Thursday, while the fifth-seeded Murray meets Illya Marchenko of the Ukraine.


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