Federer stays alive Down Under | AspenTimes.com

Federer stays alive Down Under

Paul Alexander
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

MELBOURNE, Australia ” Defending champion Roger Federer found an extra gear in the fifth set to fend off 49th- ranked Janko Tipsarevic at the Australian Open.

Federer was repeatedly forced to rally in the 4 1 ⁄ 2- hour match before outlasting the Serbian player 6-7 (5), 7-6 (1), 5-7, 6-1, 10-8 Saturday to advance to the fourth round. The packed crowd nearly witnessed an upset.

“I went on court with the idea that I can win,” the Serbian player said. “I was close. I lost because he was better in the important moments of the match.”

American James Blake rallied from two sets down to defeat Sebastien Grosjean of France and Venus Williams overcame a slow start to oust Sania Mirza of India.

Federer, seeking his 13th Grand Slam crown, needed each of his personal-best 39 aces ” 14 more than his previous mark in a match ” to hold off the challenge from the 2001 Australian Open junior champion.

“I don’t often get to play five-setters unless they’re against Nadal at Wimbledon,” Federer said of his rivalry with Rafael Nadal. “It was good to be part of something like this. It’s a pity you can’t have draws in tennis.”

He beat Nadal in five sets in the Wimbledon final last year.

The Swiss star was nearly derailed before extending his winning streak at Melbourne Park to 17 matches, tied for fourth- best behind Andre Agassi’s record of 26 straight.

Federer has reached the finals of the last 10 Grand Slam events, winning eight and losing two to Nadal ” both at the French Open.

Federer was untouchable in his first two matches, dropping only six games in six sets. He had numerous chances to take control, but Tipsarevic saved 16 of 20 break points against him until Federer finally cashed in No. 21 after rallying from 40- 0 down as the Ser­bian served at 8-8 in the fifth set.

“I had to block out all the chances I missed,” said Federer, who next faces No. 12 Tomas Berdych, a four-set winner over No. 21 Juan Monaco. “He came up with some fantastic plays and played me well.”

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