21 Jan 2016

Djokovic advances in Melbourne, Kvitova beaten

5:23 am on 21 January 2016

World number one Novak Djokovic swept into the third round of the Australian Open before being forced to deny any involvement in the tennis match-fixing scandal that has dogged the year's first grand slam.

The tennis world number one Novak Djokovic.

The tennis world number one Novak Djokovic. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The Serbian defending champion granted Quentin Halys a 100-minute audience on Rod Laver Arena before despatching the French teenager 6-1 6-2 7-6(3) but he enjoyed a less comfortable ride in the post-match media conference.

Alerted to a story in an Italian newspaper suggesting his loss to now-retired French player Fabrice Santoro in Paris in 2007 was fixed, the 28-year-old denied it point blank.

"It's not true," he said when told he had been accused of deliberately losing. "What it is to say? I've lost that match."

"Anybody can create a story about that match or for that matter any of the matches of the top players losing in the early rounds, I think it's just absurd."

Before the media conference, the last of the day, it had appeared the reverberations from Monday's media reports alleging numerous top-50 players had been flagged up for possibly throwing matches but not investigated by the tennis authorities, were fading.

Back on court, Djokovic was joined in the third round by women's champion Serena Williams, 17-times grand slam champion Federer and Maria Sharapova who all made short work of their second-round opponents.

Following Tuesday's defeats for former men's champion Rafa Nadal and women's second seed Simona Halep, the only real shock on day four came in the penultimate match of the day when Czech sixth seed Petra Kvitova, twice a Wimbledon winner, was beaten 6-4 6-4 by naturalised local Daria Gavrilova.

Top seed Williams took exactly an hour to dismiss Taiwan's Hsieh Su-wei 6-1 6-2 in the second match of the day on Rod Laver Arena after fifth seed five-times grand slam champion Sharapova had routed unseeded Belarusian Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-2 6-1.

Both had arrived at Melbourne Park with question marks over their fitness but look in good shape as they head towards their potential quarter-final meeting.

"I don't think I made that many errors today, something I was hopefully trying to get back into," said Williams, who had not completed a set in four months coming into the tournament.

"So slowly but surely, feeling a little bit better."

Third seed Federer was next up on the main showcourt to put down tricky Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-3 7-5 6-1 and retain his record of never having failed to reach the third round in 17 visits to Melbourne Park.

Seventh seed Kei Nishikori cruised into the third round with a 6-3 7-6(5) 6-3 win over Austin Krajicek and Czech Tomas Berdych, seeded one place above the Japanese, also only needed three sets to power past Bosnia's Mirza Basic 6-4 6-0 6-3.

There was a minor upset when twice grand slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, a title winner in Sydney last week, was dumped out of the tournament by Kateryna Bondarenko 6-1 7-5 but the major ruction in the women's draw came later.