Berdych sets up quarter-final date with Ferrer
Novak Djokovic of Serbia celebrates defeating Fabio Fognini of Italy in their men's singles match at the Australian Open 2014 tennis tournament in Melbourne. Photo by Jason Reed, Reuters
MELBOURNE -- Novak Djokovic offered his best impersonation of new coach Boris Becker both on and off the court in another flawless performance as he reached the quarter-finals of the Australian Open on Sunday.
The three-time defending champion crushed Italy's 15th seed Fabio Fognini of Italy 6-3 6-0 6-2 to book his place in the last eight without losing a set.
The Serb dropped just 10 points on his serve -- Becker's speciality -- in the entire match and Fognini was left to resort to joking around in the third set in an attempt to distract the second seed.
But the real fun came afterwards when the second-seeded Serb impersonated the service action, walk and mannerisms of Becker, as the German looked on from the stands.
"I saw his face reactions," Djokovic told reporters. "The first impression, when I did all the serves, he was happy and was applauding.
"When I said how he is today with his problems in the back and everything, he was not so happy about that. He was upset. But, no, it's all for good laughs.
"It's actually the first time after a long time I've actually done Becker imitation. I don't know how I was. Was it OK? I'm going to gain few kilos and have to color my hair in order to do the proper Becker imitation."
If Djokovic saved the fun stuff for after the match, he was deadly serious during it as he ripped apart Fognini with ruthlessly efficient hitting.
After breaking once to win the first set, Djokovic rattled off 14 of the next 15 points on his way to a 4-0 lead in the second.
Fognini enjoyed the best year of his career in 2013 but was powerless against Djokovic, who admits he is happy with all parts of his game.
"I feel great about myself in this moment," the Serb said.
"There is this confidence that I carry on obviously from many wins that I had in the last two months of the 2013 season and I started off this season in a good style. I'm trying to keep it up."
Djokovic, who next plays either eighth-seed Stanislas Wawrinka or No. 17 Tommy Robredo, said the hardest challenge had been keeping a straight face while Fognini did his comedy act, at one stage throwing his racket over the net towards the second seed.
"It was funny," he said. "But you cannot get carried away too much. You can lose focus so easily on the court, really. Anything can distract you.
"Tennis is such a mental game in the end of the day. It's very dynamic. Everything happens fast. In one or two points you can lose break and match can turn around.
"That's why it's important to really stay within yourself and, you know, focus on what you can do."
Battle of big servers
Meanwhile, Tomas Berdych trounced Kevin Anderson 6-2 6-2 6-3 in a battle of big servers to set up a quarter-final with Spanish hustler David Ferrer.
Berdych, wearing his trademark blue-and-white striped shirt, outgunned Anderson at a rowdy Margaret Court Arena with an impressive array of winners to extend his record to 10-0 over the South African beanpole.
Roared on by a noisy pocket of Czech supporters, the seventh seed sealed his fourth consecutive quarter-final at Melbourne Park in just under two hours but will face a far stiffer test against the tireless Ferrer, who delights in dragging opponents into attritional streetfights.
"Probably if I can compare right away all these four years, I think this year is going the best so far," the 28-year-old Czech, a Wimbledon finalist in 2010, said in his courtside interview after blasting 38 winners and breaking Anderson five times.
"There is still a lot of petrol left which I'm definitely going to need in the next match so I'm really happy for that.
"Of course, it's always great to pass the first week, especially the first week here in Melbourne with all the crazy weather. "It's nice to build up the confidence."
The Australian Open is the only grand slam where the tall Czech has not reached at least the semi-finals, but he has arguably his best chance this year with the likes of top seed Rafa Nadal, Wimbledon champion Andy Murray and Roger Federer on the other side of the draw.
Ferrer, however, has long enjoyed a charmed life at Melbourne Park where he also reached the quarter-finals on Sunday for a fourth successive year by overhauling unseeded German Florian Mayer 6-7 (5) 7-5 6-2 6-1.
The draw has smiled favorably upon the super-fit 31-year-old, who tends to belt a succession of lower-ranked opponents before being sent crashing out when he faces any one of the "Big Four."
Annihilated in last year's semi-finals by triple defending champion Djokovic, Ferrer actually beat Nadal in the 2011 quarter-finals but the 13-times grand slam champion was hampered by injury.
After being dragged into a tiebreak with unseeded Mayer, the Spaniard's superior fitness gradually told and he finished the match full of running, blazing winners from all angles.
"In the third and the fourth (sets), I moved better, I did less mistakes, and I played with power with my shots," Ferrer told reporters after making his ninth consecutive quarter-final in the grand slams.
Ferrer boasts a 7-4 winning record over the Czech but was well beaten at the season-ending World Tour championships.
"Of course, Tomas is a top-10 player. Always when I play with him, it's very close," he said.