The Saturday night session held the defending champion Roger Federer versus Frenchman Richard Gasquet as the closing act at Melbourne Park. Federer has enjoyed playing without the scorching sun weighing heavy on his 36-year old shoulders in his first three matches in this year’s Australian Open.

Federer was looking to extend his consecutive wins over his compatriot to nine in a row. Although Federer was not being handed the victory to him he still looked imperious in an 1 hour and 59 minutes straight sets win: 6-2, 7-5, 6-4.

The battle of the beautiful backhands was in full flight but it was the forehand of Federer inflicting irreparable damage in the fourth game. A trademark inside-in forehand return winner sealed the break for a 3-1 lead in favour of the Swiss.

The Frenchman played his part but as his court positioning was well behind the baseline Federer was taking full advantage of it, a nice little get off a drop shot from Federer at 4-2 down on the Swiss’ serve was testimony to that.

At 5-2 up and serving to try and stay in the first set, Gasquet lost the backhand-to-backhand showdown and it earned Federer another break point. Another backhand winner from the no. 2 seed mounted the pressure on the Gasquet’s serve with a double fault on set point down as a result. Federer was one set to the good: 6-2.

In the second set Gasquet’s level rose and Federer’s dipped. There was not much to separate the two other than Federer was making more of an impact on the Frenchman’s serve. Federer’s service delivery remained impregnable. As Federer held to love to go 6-5 up he decided it was time to switch gears. Again, mirroring the first set, Federer’s backhand flowed freely at 30-30, whistling past a stranded Gasquet at the net. The defending champion had his first break point of the set and he not needed a second to take it. Gasquet’s wayward backhand meant Federer was up two sets to nil: 7-5

In the third Federer all of a sudden threatened to race away with proceedings again. Gasquet threw in the double fault again to relinquish serve and trail 2-0. Federer made light work of consolidating the lead. This time it was Gasquet’s turn to increase his level of play. He got on the scoreboard after playing some well constructed points, utilizing his backhand down the line and successfully diving for a lunged backhand drop volley cross court. It had to be this good in order for Federer not to break his serve again.

At 4-2 down Gasquet arguably played the shot of the match with a half-volley flicked backhand bomb right on Federer’s baseline. It was all or nothing now for the Frenchman if he was going to break here. It was the longest game of the match and Gasquet was asserting his aggressive play on Federer’s serve. He finally reaped the award as he got his first break point of the match, which he took immediately as Federer produced the error. 4-3, and back on serve they went. Federer was muttering to himself.

After Federer held to love to go up 5-4 it meant crunch time again. Federer, proving the champion he is, imposed his incredible pace yet again and Frenchman had to see the 19-time Grand Slam champion earn his first match point. After a lengthy rally that followed Gasquet denied Federer with a sumptuous backhand down the line winner. Federer would get a second chance to close it out as he returned the favor with an indelible backhand down the line winner of his own. This time Federre would not be denied. He closed it out in some style: a backhand flicked pass winner up the line.

Federer had extended his head-to-head record with Richard Gasquet to 17-2. Racking up 42 winners in total, to 27 from Gasquet.

Federer’s off the cuff interview with Jim Courier was fun as always.

“My head is still spinning because I was so lucky on the match point. I protected my serve a little bit better than him. You gotta focus to the very end, which is a terrible answer.”

Federer will now have a surprising fourth round encounter with 85th ranked Marton Fucsovics who beat Nicolas Kicker in straights earlier on Saturday.

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