Roger Federer had practised with Alexandr Dolgopolov as recently as the off-season in Dubai. So the No. 3 seed knew good and well that the 35th-ranked Ukrainian had the fitness, the speed and the tennis IQ to makes things difficult for him in the second round in Melbourne.
The Swiss kept that all in check on Wednesday in Rod Laver Arena by simply serving his way past his 27-year-old challenger, charting 25 aces and winning 88 per cent (43 of 49) of his first-serve points in a straight-sets 6-3, 7-5, 6-1 win. He could face Grigor Dimitrov next, should the Bulgarian get past Argentine Marco Trungelliti.
The first opening came in the sixth game of the first set, Federer breaking the Ukrainian at love with a clean backhand winner. Serving for the set at 5-3, he fired three aces to take the set in 26 minutes.
The second set remained on serve through 10 games when three straight errors from Dolgopolov handed a break to Federer, who then stepped up to the service stripe to secure a commanding two-sets-to-love lead. Three breaks in the final set were just too much for Dolgopolov to overcome in the 92-minute loss.
Federer is looking to become only the third man in history to win five Australian Open singles titles after Roy Emerson (six) and Novak Djokovic (five).
Dolgopolov’s best Grand Slam result came at the Australian Open in 2011, when he reached the quarter-finals (l. to Andy Murray). He defeated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Robin Soderling in five sets to become just the second Ukrainian man to reach the last eight at a major.
Federer wasn't the only one turning in a big serving performance on Day 3. No. 6 seed Tomas Berdychlost just two points on his first serve (37 for 39) in dispatching Mirza Basic of Bosnia and Herzegovina 6-4, 6-0, 6-3 in 98 minutes, 15 aces among the Czech's 43 winners. Forty-nine unforced errors proved Spaniard Nicolas Almagro's undoing in a 6-3, 6-1, 6-3 loss to 19th seed Dominic Thiem of Austria. Thiem finished with 28 winners to 14 unforced errors in the one-hour and 40-minute victory.