Novak Djokovic and Andy Roddick have reached the fourth round of the Australian Open.
Djokovic needed four sets to get past big-serving lucky loser Amer Delic 6-2 4-6 6-3 7-6 (7-4), while Roddick stepped up his performance to beat Fabrice Santoro, the oldest man in the draw making his final bow at Melbourne Park at the age of 36, 6-3 6-4 6-2.
Defending champion Djokovic survived a stern test from the 26-year-old Delic, who was only in the draw because of the withdrawal of Nicolas Kiefer through injury.
Delic belied his world ranking of 127, firing down 16 aces and 46 winners in a match that lasted a shade over three hours and was followed by skirmishes between rival Bosnian and Serbian fans outside Rod Laver Arena.
Djokovic took just 32 minutes to claim the first set after breaking his opponent in the fourth and eight games.
The players each held their own serves until the fifth game of the second set when Delic, the first lucky loser to reach the third round in Melbourne since 1991, needed two opportunities to convert the break before going on to serve out the set.
Djokovic got the early advantage in the third when Delic fired a return long in the second game to help the Serbian on his way to a 4-1 lead.
At 5-2 down, Delic called for a medical time out to have some treatment on a toe and then fought off a determined Djokovic to hold his serve.
It proved academic though as the world number three held his serve to love to gain the upper hand.
Delic and Djokovic traded booming serves and ferocious winners from the baseline in the final set.
But as Delic appeared to tire, a result of his exertions in two previous five-set matches, Djokovic forced him into errors to wrap up the tie breaker and the match.
“I need some matches like this to feel really what a grand slam is all about,” said the 2008 champion.
“I didn’t really plan to be that long on the court, of course as you always want to finish the job as soon as possible.
“But as I said, the positive thing is that I got more time out there, and I’m looking forward to the upcoming match.”
Roddick took one hour, 39 minutes to see off Santoro, who had been bidding to become the oldest player to reach the fourth round of a grand slam since 39-year-old Jimmy Connors in the 1991 US Open but will now retire.
Roddick showed the Frenchman no mercy sending down 22 aces and hitting 50 winners, including serves, to Santoro’s four and 20.
Roddick, the seventh seed, did not have it all his own way though as Santoro mixed up his game well using precision lobs and sneaky drop shots to try to disrupt the American’s flow.
Having taken the first set, Roddick also began making forays to the net, which helped secure the second set.
Then after taking a 5-2 lead in the third he served out the match.
Roddick had nothing but admiration for his opponent, who was playing in his 66th major overall and held the men’s record for the most open era grand slam appearances.
“I don’t know if I was aware of that record. That’s pretty impressive. I’m surprised not more has been made of that,” he said.
Roddick will take on Spaniard Tommy Robredo in the fourth round after the 21st seed easily overcame Yen-Hsun Lu 6-1 6-3 6-2.
Lu upset number 10 seed David Nalbandian in a thrilling five-setter in the previous round but the match on Show Court Two was one step too far for the 25-year-old.
Up-and-comers Juan Martin Del Potro and Marin Cilic will play each other in the next round after victories against Gilles Muller and David Ferrer, respectively.
Croatian Cilic beat the 11th seed 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 6-4, while Del Potro, of Argentina, came from a set down to defeat Muller 6-7 (5-7) 7-5 6-3 7-5.