Federer sails past Berdych into last 16

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Switzerland’s Roger Federer hits a return against Czech Republic’s Tomas Berdych during their men’s singles third round match on day five of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 20, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / WILLIAM WEST /

Swiss marvel Roger Federer sailed past long-time rival Tomas Berdych in straight sets to storm into the fourth round at the Australian Open on Friday.

The 17-time Grand Slam champion, seeded 17th after an injury-hit 2016, downed the 10th-seeded Czech 6-2, 6-4, 6-4, in 90 minutes.

Federer reached the round of 16 in Melbourne for the 15th time where he will face Japanese fifth seed Kei Nishikori.

Any concerns that Federer might be in for a tough night evaporated with a double service break to lead Berdych 5-2 in the opening set.

The Swiss maestro continued to put on a tennis masterclass to leave the big Czech floundering.

Federer breezed through the opening set in 26 minutes, made it 2-0 another 31 minutes later and cruised through the final set in 33 minutes to complete an astonishing demolition of one of his long-time rivals in 90 blistering minutes.

Federer broke Berdych’s big serve four times and did not face one break point on his own service, while hitting 40 winners against just 17 unforced errors.

“I always felt I lift my game against the higher-ranked players, but I didn’t expect it to go this hard,” Federer said moments after his brilliant victory.

“I had no expectations really for tonight, but I did surprise myself.”

On facing Nishikori in his next match, the 35-year-old Swiss legend said: “I guess I’m ready, there’s no turning back now.”

It was the 23rd career meeting between the pair and their seventh meeting at a Grand Slam, and fourth at the Australian Open.

Federer extended his record to 17-6 over Berdych and has won their last six meetings. The last time the Czech defeated Federer was in the semi-finals at Dubai in 2013.

The Swiss legend is looking to become the third man to win five Australian Open singles titles after Novak Djokovic and Roy Emerson, who have both won six.

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