Berdych sets up quarter-final date with Ferrer
MELBOURNE - Tomas Berdych trounced Kevin Anderson 6-2 6-2 6-3 in a battle of big servers at the Australian Open on Sunday to set up a quarter-final with Spanish hustler David Ferrer.
Berdych, wearing his trademark blue-and-white striped shirt, outgunned Anderson at a rowdy Margaret Court Arena with an impressive array of winners to extend his record to 10-0 over the South African beanpole.
Roared on by a noisy pocket of Czech supporters, the seventh seed sealed his fourth consecutive quarter-final at Melbourne Park in just under two hours but will face a far stiffer test against the tireless Ferrer, who delights in dragging opponents into attritional streetfights.
"Probably if I can compare right away all these four years, I think this year is going the best so far," the 28-year-old Czech, a Wimbledon finalist in 2010, said in his courtside interview after blasting 38 winners and breaking Anderson five times.
"There is still a lot of petrol left which I'm definitely going to need in the next match so I'm really happy for that.
"Of course, it's always great to pass the first week, especially the first week here in Melbourne with all the crazy weather.
"It's nice to build up the confidence."
The Australian Open is the only grand slam where the tall Czech has not reached at least the semi-finals, but he has arguably his best chance this year with the likes of top seed Rafa Nadal, Wimbledon champion Andy Murray and Roger Federer on the other side of the draw.
Ferrer, however, has long enjoyed a charmed life at Melbourne Park where he also reached the quarter-finals on Sunday for a fourth successive year by overhauling unseeded German Florian Mayer 6-7 (5) 7-5 6-2 6-1.
The draw has smiled favourably upon the super-fit 31-year-old, who tends to belt a succession of lower-ranked opponents before being sent crashing out when he faces any one of the 'Big Four'.
Annihilated in last year's semi-finals by triple defending champion Novak Djokovic, Ferrer actually beat Nadal in the 2011 quarter-finals but the 13-times grand slam champion was hampered by injury.
After being dragged into a tiebreak with unseeded Mayer, the Spaniard's superior fitness gradually told and he finished the match full of running, blazing winners from all angles.
"In the third and the fourth (sets), I moved better, I did less mistakes, and I played with power with my shots," Ferrer told reporters after making his ninth consecutive quarter-final in the grand slams.
Ferrer boasts a 7-4 winning record over the Czech but was well beaten at the season-ending World Tour championships.
"Of course, Tomas is a top-10 player. Always when I play with him, it's very close," he said.
(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Sudipto Ganguly)