Federer eases past Malisse
Roger Federer overpowered Belgium's Xavier Malisse 6-3, 6-3, 6-1 to reach the fourth round of the Australian Open in dazzling sunshine on Friday.
The defending Melbourne champion, who suffered a scare in the previous round, had too many weapons for Malisse, sweeping through in an hour and 45 minutes.
Signs of the chinks that showed in Federer's armour for much of last year remain, however, as the Swiss maestro made 36 unforced errors, including two mis-hit smashes.
The 16-times Grand Slam winner raised his game when it mattered, sealing victory with a trademark whipped forehand down the line, encapsulating perfectly the gulf in class.
Image: Roger Federer in action against Xavier Malisse on Friday
Kuznetsova dashes Henin hopes
Seven-times Grand Slam winner Justine Henin was knocked out of the Australian Open in the third round on Friday, the 11th-seeded 2004 champion losing to Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-4, 7-6.
Last year's fairytale story when she reached the final after her return from retirement, the Belgian lost only her third match in 19 meetings with the Russian 23rd-seed after a tight 79-minute second set.
Henin, who had returned to Grand Slam action after being sidelined for six months with an elbow injury sustained at Wimbledon, struggled with 41 unforced errors but fought back gamely after losing the first set.
She broke back twice to take an increasingly nervous Kuznetsova into a tiebreak and saved three match points before slapping a forehand into the tramlines on the fourth to concede the match to the two-time Grand Slam champion Kuznetsova.
"I'm really pleased with way I played today, especially in the first set," Kuznetsova said in a courtside interview.
"After that it's tennis, you get nerves, I wanted to win so much and it was a great atmosphere. Match-by-match, I'm getting better and better, it's a real pleasure for me to play on this court today."
Kuznetsova will next play French Open champion Francesca Schiavone.
Image: Svetlana Kuznetsova exults after defeating Justine Henin on Friday
Djokovic sails into last 16 after Troicki retires
Novak Djokovic sailed into the fourth round of the Australian Open after his friend and countryman Viktor Troicki retired ill after losing the first set 6-2 on Friday.
After netting a shot to concede the set, Troicki approached the world number three, embraced him and called off the match after 39 minutes.
"Like any tennis player, you don't wish to win like this," 2008 champion Djokovic said in a courtside interview.
"I knew before the match that he had a little trouble with his stomach. I know it's the third round of a Grand Slam and he wanted to give 100 percent ... And he was not able."
Djokovic will next play the winner of Nicolas Almagro and Ivan Ljubicic.
Image: Novak Djokovic slides as he returns against compatriot Viktor Troicki on Friday
Wozniacki breezes into last 16
World number one Caroline Wozniacki continued her fuss-free run at the Australian Open on Friday, prevailing 6-4, 6-3 over a wasteful Dominika Cibulkova to break into the last 16.
In an uninspiring match at Rod Laver Arena in which both players threw away their serves cheaply, Dane Wozniacki's patience paid off as she waited for Slovak Cibulkova to crumble in decisive points.
Cibulkova saved one match point at 5-3 in the second but sprayed a forehand wide, one of 41 unforced errors, to allow Wozniacki to wrap up the match 92 minutes.
The win was revenge for Wozniacki, who was dumped out of the second round of the Sydney International by Cibulkova in the lead-up to Melbourne Park.
Image: Caroline Wozniacki plays a shot against Slovak Dominika Cibulkova on Friday
Sharapova grunts her way past Goerges
A fired-up Maria Sharapova strained her vocal chords to exhaustion as she fought off a stiff challenge from German Julia Goerges to advance to the fourth round of the Australian Open on Friday.
Pumping her first and bellowing "c'mon!", the former world number one dug herself out of a first-set hole and survived a late match wobble before sealing the match 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 with a thumping serve in a shade under two and half hours.
The 2008 champion, Sharapova surrendered her serve in a bout of nerves after taking a 4-1 lead in the final set, but held on grimly to have a chance of raising her second title at Melbourne Park.
She will next play the winner of Venus Williams and Andrea Petkovic.
Image: Maria Sharapova hits a return against German Julia Goerges
Injured Venus lasts just seven points
Venus Williams retired from her Australian Open third round match against Germany's Andrea Petkovic with injury on Friday after lasting just seven points.
The seven-times Grand Slam champion pulled up with what appeared to be a groin strain after lunging for a return with the German leading by a game and 30-0 in Melbourne.
"It was just too painful to move," fourth seed Williams said after aggravating an injury that troubled her in the previous round.
"The last 48 hours I did as much pain management and recovery that I could. A lot times you get this adrenaline that blocks pain. I just didn't get enough of that today."
Petkovic moves on to face former champion Maria Sharapova in the fourth round.
Image: Venus Williams leave the court after retiring from her match against Germany's Andrea Petkovic
Monfils outplayed by Wawrinka
Gael Monfils paid the price for playing nine sets in his first two rounds as the French 12th seed went out 7-6, 6-2, 6-3 to Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka.
Spaniard Fernando Verdasco, however, brushed off his five-set second round thriller to beat Japan's Kei Nishikori 6-2, 6-4, 6-3 and set up a fourth round meeting with Czech sixth seed Thomas Berdych, who cruised past Richard Gasquet 6-2, 7-6, 6-2.
Image: Gael Monfils of France reacts during his match against Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland