Reigning champ labours into last eight

Roger Federer moved into the Australian Open quarter-finals yesterday but delivered a performance which again offered hope to his title rivals.

The Swiss beat Tommy Robredo and, while it was always a match he was going to win, the way his concentration disappeared in the second set displayed an element of vulnerability and raised more questions as to whether the world number two can defend the title he won 12 months ago.

He eventually prevailed 6-3 4-6 6-3 6-2. week.

"I'm satisfied I'm still in the tournament." he said. "I'm in another quarter-final and have a good chance to make it to the semis again, so I'm very pleased.

"It's been a tough first week with a bit of heat the last couple of matches I played in.

"I am pretty happy with how I'm hitting the ball.

"I had a tricky draw and that's why I'm happy I was able to beat all those guys and give myself a chance to get into the second week."

Federer will meet countryman Stanislas Wawrinka next after he crushed Andy Roddick 6-3 6-4 6-4 with a wonderful display.

Third seed Novak Djokovic advanced after a hugely impressive win against Nicolas Almagro. The Serbian, the champion here in 2008, withstood everything the big-hitting Spaniard could throw at him before sprinting through the third set to complete a 6-3 6-4 6-0 victory.

Djokovic will meet Tomas Berdych in the quarters after the sixth seed beat Spain's Fernando Verdasco with surprising ease 6-4 6-2 6-3.

In the other half of the draw, Andy Murray and world number one Rafael Nadal are in action today.

Fifth seed Murray, the 2010 finallist, had yet to drop a set in the tournament before his early showdown with Austrian Jurgen Melzer. The in-form Scot was the favourite to progress to the last eight having beaten Melzer in their previous four meetings.

Murray said: "It will be a tough match. He's very unpredictable on the court but had his best year on the tour last year.

"He takes a lot of chances on the court and can also make some mistakes too. He plays high-risk tennis.

"But he has definitely improved. The older he has got, the better he has started to play. He has started to understand his game better."

On Saturday, Murray thumped Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 6-1 6-2 6-2 in a one-sided encounter. In total, Murray dropped just 17 games in his opening three matches.

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