Federer cruises as Paris awaits Djokovic, Del Potro


Roger Federer cruised into the French Open last 16 on Friday as Roland Garros braced itself for a Grand Slam heavyweight clash between Novak Djokovic and Juan Martin del Potro.
Federer, the 2009 champion and playing in his 46th consecutive Grand Slam tournament, disposed of Serbian 29th seed Janko Tipsarevic 6-1, 6-4, 6-3.
The third seed and 2009 champion will face either close friend, and Swiss compatriot, Stanislas Wawrinka or seventh-seeded Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga for a place in the quarter-finals.
“They were tricky conditions, the wind was moving the clouds around, there was a chance of rain so it was good not to spend too much time on court,” said Federer.
“I served well to keep me out of trouble and from the baseline I was mixing it up well. It was good to have another early finish which is nice.
“I thought that it would have been a lot more difficult. The first set was the key. That gave me confidence and it made him doubt his game plan.”
Federer had been pushed by Tipsarevic in a five-set marathon in the third round of the Australian Open in 2008.
But there was to be no such drama on Friday.
Federer romped through the first set in just 19 minutes with two breaks of serve, allowing his 26-year-old opponent just 10 points.
On a chilly Suzanne Lenglen court, where the temperature hovered around 19 degrees, the Swiss was a break to the good for a 3-2 lead in the second set and backed it up for 4-2, fighting off the only break point he faced.
Tipsarevic, the 29th seed, who has never got beyond the third round in Paris, was soon two sets down when he dumped a backhand service return into the net.
Federer laid a further foundation for victory with a break in the first game of the third set and the match was over in just 90 minutes when the sunglasses-wearing Serb popped a lazy backhand out of play.
Second seed Djokovic, on a 41-match winning run and undefeated in 2011, takes on former world number four Del Potro for a place in the last 16.
Djokovic is the overwhelming favourite not just to see off the giant 1.98m Argentine, but also to go on to take the title off Rafael Nadal and assume the world number one spot.
The Australian Open champion now stands five wins away from equalling Guillermo Vilas’s record for a winning streak.
The Serb is also only three away from John McEnroe’s 1984 record for an undefeated start to a season.
But win or lose on Friday, the 24-year-old Djokovic insists nothing will break his friendship with the injury-plagued Del Potro.
“He’s a great guy. We have a really friendly relationship off the court, and regardless of what happens, we’ll still stay friends,” said Djokovic.
“But we’re both professional. We want to win on the court.”