World No.2 Roger Federer continued his charge towards a 20th grand slam title with a 6-4 6-4 7-6(4) win over German Jan-Lennard Struff in the second round of the Australian Open on Thursday while several seeded players crashed out.
Serbian Novak Djokovic also progressed to the third round with a 4-6 6-3 6-1 6-3 win over France’s Gael Monfils in the blazing heat at Melbourne Park.
Former champion Stan Wawrinka’s knee injury came back to haunt him as he hobbled out of the tournament with a limp defeat to American Tennys Sandgren, whose compatriot Sam Querrey and seventh-seed David Goffin were also knocked out.
Women’s world number one Simona Halep swept past Canadian Eugenie Bouchard to book a third round spot and will be joined by several top contenders including Russian Maria Sharapova, home favourite Ashleigh Barty and German Angelique Kerber.
Britain’s ninth-seeded Johanna Konta and Spanish third seed Garbine Muguruza suffered shock defeats to American Bernarda Pera and Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei respectively.
Sharapova and Kerber will face off in an eye-watering third round fixture on Saturday while men’s fourth-seed Alexander Zverev will take on Next Gen ATP Finals champion Chung Hyeon.
Federer, 36, remains on course to seal his 20th grand slam title and will face Frenchman Richard Gasquet in the third round.
German fourth-seed Alexander Zverev eased into the third round with a routine 6-1 6-3 4-6 6-3 win over compatriot Peter Gojowczyk.
The 20-year-old will face ATP Next Gen Finals champion Chung Hyeon, who beat Russian Daniil Medvedev 7-6(4) 6-1 6-1 in the second round.
Ashleigh Barty, backed by a roaring home support on Rod Laver Arena, rallied from a set down to beat Italian Camila Giorgi 5-7 6-4 6-1 in the second round.
She will next face Japan’s Naomi Osaka, who defeated 16th seed Elena Vesnina 7-6(4) 6-2.
Halep allayed fears over the ankle injury she suffered in the opening round with a convincing 6-2 6-2 victory over Canadian Eugenie Bouchard.
“I felt the pain but I didn’t think about it,” said Halep, who will next face American Lauren Davies.
Argentinean Juan Martin del Potro fired 60 winners on his way to a 6-4 7-6(4) 6-7(0) 6-4 second-round victory over Karen Khachanov of Russia.
French veteran Julien Benneteau recovered from a flat start to beat seventh seed David Goffin 1-6 7-6(5) 6-1 7-6(4) in the second round.
Djokovic, untroubled by scorching conditions at Melbourne Park, beat Frenchman Gael Monfils 4-6 6-3 6-1 6-3 in the second round, though he took aim at organisers for allowing play to continue in such heat.
“We both suffered on the court today,” Djokovic said after the match. “Really tough conditions, brutal – especially for the first hour and a half. I was coming into the match knowing it was going to be a big challenge for both of us.”
American Madison Keys, a U.S. Open finalist last year, took just 41 minutes to beat Russian Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-0 6-1 in the second round.
Former Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber beat Croatian Donna Vekic 6-4 6-1 to celebrate her 30th birthday with a third round berth at Melbourne Park. Her birthday gift? A blockbuster clash with 2008 winner Maria Sharapova in the next round.
Sharapova, who booked a place in the third round, said she missed the Australian summer last year, having forced to sit out of the grand slam due to a doping ban.
“I love being in the city. I love Australia. I love the summertime,” she told a news conference after beating Anastasija Sevastova 6-1 7-6(4) in the second round.
“I was watching this tournament with a box of Kleenex next to me sick. So, you know, I feel like I transported myself into the TV this year and I’m finding myself on Rod Laver Arena competing. A lot of things to smile about. I wanted to be here. I got myself here. Yeah, it’s great to be back.”