Tennis: Berdych powers into third round

Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic hits a forehand return to France's Guillaume Rufin during their second round match at the Australian Open tennis championship. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)
Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic hits a forehand return to France's Guillaume Rufin during their second round match at the Australian Open tennis championship. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)

Czech fifth seed Tomas Berdych has powered into the third round of the Australian Open at Melbourne Park.

Berdych needed less than two hours on Wednesday to blast past Frenchman Guillaume Rufin 6-2 6-2 6-4 on Rod Laver Arena.

A quarter-finalist the past two years in Melbourne, Berdych looks headed for the last eight once again and looms as a potential threat to top seed and two-time defending champion Novak Djokovic.

Berdych next faces Austrian 26th seed Jurgen Melzer or Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut on Friday for a spot in the last 16.

Japan's Kei Nishikori also continues to impress, reaching the third round with a similarly cruisy straight-sets win.

The 22-year-old rising star took the first-set tiebreaker from Carlos Berlocq and then was too strong for the Argentine, winning 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 6-1.

The Open's 16th seed will meet the winner of the all-Russian match between No.23 seed Mikhail Youzhny and Evgeny Donskoy.

Nishikori made history at the Australian Open last year when he became the first Japanese men's player in the modern era to reach a grand slam quarter-final.

He was also the first Japanese player to win his home country's Open in its 41-year history and reached a career-high ranking of 19.

Nishikori made a wobbly start to this month when a left knee injury forced him out of the Kooyong Classic, but he was able to play a practice match before the Australian Open.

Also on Wednesday, Spaniard Nicolas Almagro was the first player through to the men's third round.

The tournament's 10th seed only needed an hour and 41 minutes on day three to beat compatriot Daniel Gimeno-Traver 6-4 6-1 6-2.

The world No.11 has reached the fourth round at the Open for the past three years.

He will play Indian Somdev Devvarman or Polish 24th seed Jerzy Janowicz.

American Sam Querrey lost his first-set tiebreaker to journeyman and compatriot Brian Baker, but Baker then retired at 1-1 in the second.

Querrey will face Swiss 15th seed Stanislas Wawrinka or Tobias Kamke.

-AAP

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