Ferrer, Berdych reach Open third round
David Ferrer of Spain hits a return to Tim Smyczek of the USA. Photo: Reuters
Two of the biggest threats to defending champion Novak Djokovic are through to the third round at the Australian Open.
Fourth-seed Spaniard David Ferrer held off American Tim Smyczek on Wednesday for a 6-0 7-5 4-6 6-3 win.
Czech Tomas Berdych, the fifth seed, dropped his serve once in the third set but otherwise was untroubled as he took care of Frenchman Guillaume Rufin 6-2 6-2 6-4 in less than two hours.
Kei Nishikori of Japan serves to Carlos Berlocq of Argentina. Photo: Reuters
A quarter-finalist the past two years in Melbourne, Berdych looks headed for the last eight once again.
Ferrer is also in the same half of the draw as Djokovic, the top seed and two-time defending champion.
The Spaniard made the quarter-finals at the Australian and French Opens last year and was a semi-finalist at Wimbledon and the US Open.
Berdych's next opponent will be Austrian Jurgen Melzer, who lost two tie breaks before holding on to beat Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain.
Melzer eventually proved too strong in a tight duel, winning 6-7 (7-4) 6-3 6-7 (7-3) 6-3 6-2.
In other second-round action on Wednesday, Japan's Kei Nishikori also continued to impress.
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.
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.
By contrast, Almagro's next opponent Jerzy Janowicz endured a four-hour marathon against Indian Somdem Devvarman.
The 24th seed rallied to win 6-7 (12-10) 3-6 6-1 6-0 7-5.
American Sam Querrey lost his first-set tiebreaker to journeyman and compatriot Brian Baker, but Baker went down with a knee injury and had to retire at 1-1 in the second.
Swiss 15th seed Stanislas Wawrinka also had an easier passage into his third-round match against Querrey when German opponent Tobias Kamke retired.
Wawrinka was leading 6-3 7-6 (7-4) when their match ended early.