Federer battles past qualifier Evans to reach Open third round





Melbourne - By Helen Livingstone, - Roger Federer had to battle past British qualifier Daniel Evans to reach the third round of the Australian Open on Wednesday, while fifth seed Kevin Anderson was stunned by US rising star Frances Tiafoe.

Federer eventually clinched the match on Melbourne Park's Rod Laver Arena 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-3), 6-3.



 
Despite the straight-sets win, Evans challenged the 2018 champion throughout, leading 5-3 in the first set tiebreak at one point and bouncing back from 5-3 down in the second set to force another tiebreak.
"I couldn't pull away early in the match. It always helps when you sneak in a quick break, win that first set," Federer, who is bidding for his 21st grand slam title, said in an on-court interview.
"I think maybe if I'd been able to close out that second set things are maybe going a bit smoother but I think he played very well."
Meanwhile, Tiafoe, who was competing at his first Australian Open, pulled off a shock victory over South Africa's Anderson 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, 7-5.
In his excitement post-match, the world number 39 got his necklace caught up in his shirt and had to be freed by a ballkid.
"It means the world to me," Tiafoe said of the win. "I lost to Kevin three times last year and I was down a set and a break and it looked like he was going to do it for the fourth time."
Asked about his 21st birthday, which he celebrates on Sunday, he said: "If I'm playing on that day and beat somebody that would be the best present I could get."
Croatian sixth seed Marin Cilic also seized a 7-5, 6-7 (9-11), 6-4, 6-4 win over Mackenzie McDonald of the United States, and rising star Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece posted a 6-3, 2-6, 6-2, 7-5 victory over Serbian qualifier Viktor Troicki.
In the women's draw, Sloane Stephens demolished Hungary's Timea Babos 6-3, 6-1 and local favourite Ash Barty took a comfortable 6-2, 6-3 over China's Yafan Wang.
Stephens, the 2017 US Open champion, took just an hour and 35 minutes to dismantle Babos.
"We actually won three junior doubles grand slams together so I know that she is a very big player and I just had to be patient," Stephens said post-match.
"Her serve is ridiculously good, so I just had to hang in there."
But there was an upset for ninth seed Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands, who was stunned 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 by Russian world number 44 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
Twentieth seed Anett Kontaveit was also dumped out of the tournament 6-3, 6-3 by Belarusian Aliaksandra Sasnovich.

 


Wednesday, January 16th 2019
By Helen Livingstone,
           


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