Djokovic beats Stepanek to advance at Australian Open

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Novak Djokovic and Janko Tipsarevic moved into the fourth round of Australian Open 2013, whilst Verdasco suffered a defeat against Kevin Anderson.

The defending champion Novak Djokovic marches on in Melbourne after dismissing 31st seeded Czech veteran Radek Stepanek. The top seed Serb won the last five of their head-to-head matches, including a third round victory in Wimbledon last summer. All of the sets played today were intense and tight until the final stages. In the opener Stepanek was close to making a breakthrough, yet he failed to convert a break ball in the seventh game. A three-time Australian Open winner Djokovic then put in an extra effort and produced a triple break point when the Czech was serving to stay in the set – he tucked away the second one.

There was not much between the players in the following set either. Serves were hold comfortable until former No. 8 Stepanek stumbled in the eighth game, allowing the opponent to go 5-3 up and serve out the second set smoothly. The Czech had a harder time keeping up with the favorite Djokovic in the third set, but saved six break points before generating his own in the eighth game. Djokovic stepped it up a notch again at the crucial point of the set and finally broke his challenger for a 6-5 lead which he capitalized on by serving out the match one game later. Although Stepanek fought bravely in the clash marked with long ball exchanges, he was unable to stop the dominant Serb entering the fourth round in Melbourne. The final score: 6-4, 6-3, 7-5.

Another Serb from the top half of the draw managed to find his way into the fourth round. Eighth-seeded Tipsarevic knocked out Julian Bennetau after keeping his nerves in the all-deciding fifth set. The 32nd seed French was leading 2-1 in sets, but Tipsarevic raised the level of his serving after that and slid into the next round by breaking Bennetau once in both fourth and fifth set. In the end he could even afford himself wasting five match points before wrapping the match up with a 3-6, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4, 6-3 end score.

Similarly, South African Anderson bounced back from a 2-1 deficit against 22nd seed Fernando Verdasco and completed a fine comeback after a bit less than four hours of tennis. The scoreline: 4-6, 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (4), 6-2.  

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