Roger Federer relived old glories as other players celebrated unprecedented highs in the third round of the Australian Open on Saturday.
Federer, the sixth seed, reached the last 16 at the Open for the 13th straight year with his 6-2 6-2 6-3 defeat of Russia’s Teymuraz Gabashvili, declaring himself fit and well for a return to the grand slam winning list.
For Federer, the one-time king of the game who held the top spot in world rankings for longer than any other player, the win put him a step closer to an 18th major title after a run of five outs.
“It’s been a while, but I’m happy with how I’m playing, how I’m feeling,” he said.
His defeat of Gabashvili was Federer’s 71st win at the Australian Open, just one of the dozens of records established by the Swiss champion.
Federer came to this year’s Open after a season hampered by a back injury and with a new racquet.
After his third-round win, he declared the back to be healed and the racquet behaving.
“I’m just happy to be waking up in the morning and not feeling like an old man,” he said.
“I have confidence in my movement and confidence in my body.”
The move by the most successful grand slam player in the game into old territory was matched by a pair of unheralded rivals.
Fourth seed Andy Murray, meanwhile, continued his comeback from back surgery, beating Spaniard Feliciano Lopez 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 6-2.
Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain and Frenchman Stephane Robert are yet to win a tournament, but they are guaranteed a boost in their rankings and a healthy pay day after their third-round victories.
Bautista Agut, who beat fifth seed Juan Martin del Potro in the second round, backed up to oust French 27th seed Paire Benoit 6-2 6-1 6-4.
Robert, who entered the tournament as a lucky loser, beat Slovakia’s Martin Klizan 6-0 7-6 (7-2) 6-4.
In the first month of the new season, 33-year-old Robert has already made 2014 his best of 13 years on tour.
“I have played some good matches, but it is difficult to win one, two or three together,” he said.
“This has been a very good start for the year. Maybe it’s a good sign.”
Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov also achieved a career-best in grand slams, beating 11th seed Milos Raonic of Canada 6-3 3-6 6-4 7-6 (12-10).