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Federer struts his stuff against Struff

Melbourne: Defending champion Roger Federer advanced to the third round for the 19th straight Australian Open with an easy win over Germany's Jan-Lennard Struff on Thursday.

The Swiss second seed was too strong for the 55th-ranked Struff, reeling off a 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (7/4) victory in 1hr 55min in the night match on Rod Laver Arena.

The 19-time Grand Slam champion will face Frenchman Richard Gasquet in the third round on Saturday.

"I knew about him going in. I've practised with him, played singles and doubles against him too so you have the information you need," Federer said of his German opponent.

"You know he can serve 215-220 km/h no problem for five hours, that's what you are ready for and I knew he was going to go for his shots.

"So the focus was on me protecting my serve as well as I can and try to get a service break either by good defence or maybe he helps me out a little bit, and I think it was a bit of both."  

Federer improved his Australian Open record to 89-13.

The Swiss legend broke Struff's serve three times and lost his own once and made 36 winners and just 22 unforced error.

Federer said he was looking forward to playing long-time rival Gasquet.

"He has one of the best one-handed backhanders in the game, so I love playing the guy, he has great variation and moves to net, and he's a little old school and we've had some good matches over the years," Federer said.  

Gasquet beat Italy's Lorenzo Sonego 6-2, 6-2, 6-3 to book his place in the next round.

Wawrinka crashes out

It was a totally different story for another Swiss as struggling former winner Stan Wawrinka was knocked out by American Tennys Sandgren in the second round.

The 97th-ranked Sandgren defeated ninth-seeded Wawrinka 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 and will next play Germany’s Maximilian Marterer.

It has been tough so far this year for Wawrinka, who was playing in his first tournament since Wimbledon six months ago following left knee surgery.

He was never in the contest and had his serve broken five times and made only 21 winners and 35 unforced errors.

The three-time Grand Slam winner, who defeated Rafael Nadal to win the 2014 Australian Open, has slipped to nine in the world rankings and faces a battle to climb higher after his early round exit.

He made the semi-finals at last year’s Australian Open where he lost to eventual champion Roger Federer in five sets.

Wawrinka had a troubled lead-in to the year’s opening Grand Slam, pulling out of an exhibition event in Abu Dhabi on his way to Australia.

He has not played a competitive match prior to his first round Open win over Lithuania’s Ricardas Berankis, having only decided to take part last weekend.

Sandgren’s next opponent, world No.94 Marterer, reached the third round with a 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(5), 3-6, 6-3 over Spanish veteran Fernando Verdasco.

Zverev advances

Meanwhile, young gun Alexander Zverev powered into the third round with a solid win over fellow German Peter Gojowczyk.

The world No.4, just 20, took almost two hours to put away the 62nd-ranked Gojowczyk 6-1, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 on Hisense Arena.

Zverev will face another “NextGen” star Chung Hy-eon of South Korea in the next round on Saturday.

While Zverev won five titles and was one of just four players to beat Roger Federer last year, he has yet to get beyond the fourth round at a Grand Slam.

Halep crushes Bouchard

In the women's section, aggressive world number one Simona Halep kept her quest for a maiden Grand Slam title on course by cruising into the third round.

The Romanian top seed needed just an hour and five minutes to sweep to an easy 6-2, 6-2 victory over struggling Eugenie Bouchard on Margaret Court Arena.

Four years ago this match-up was the Wimbledon semifinal, which the then up-and-coming teenager Bouchard won 7-6 (7/5), 6-2 after Halep was compromised by an ankle injury.

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