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Federer rinses Berdych in Open clinic

NZN 20/01/2017 Ben McKay

Roger Federer has cast aside any doubts over his form or fitness with a clinical demolition of Tomas Berdych in the Australian Open third round.

The four-time Open champion rolled back the years on Friday night with a 6-2 6-4 6-4 win over the 10th-seeded Czech in just one hour and 29 minutes in front of an adoring crowd.

The majesty of Federer's all-round game was on full display on Rod Laver Arena.

What was supposed to be the first real test of Federer's form in his first official tournament since last year's Wimbledon resembled a walkover.

Federer didn't all face a break point all night, winning 39 of 41 points when his first serve landed.

Lleyton Hewitt called it a "massive statement".

John McEnroe said the rest of the field would need to "watch out".

And Berdych could only laugh as winner after winner sailed past him.

Federer ripped 40 through the contest, including 10 backhand winners to nil.

The 17-time major title-holder said even he was taken aback by some of his own play.

"I couldn't be happier right now," he said.

"I felt like I struggled in the early rounds but today was different. It was unbelievable and I did surprise myself."

McEnroe was awe-struck commentating for ESPN, saying Federer recalled the "bionic man" and made Berdych "look like No.100 in the world, not No.10".

"He's putting on an absolute clinic," he said.

The great surprise wasn't that Federer was able to produce this sort of performance, given his unparalleled pedigree.

It's that it came so early in the 35-year-old's comeback from a serious knee complaint, and against a player as well-credentialed as the world No.10.

"From the baseline, honestly I felt worlds better than in the first couple of rounds. It's wonderful," he said.

"It's just crazy how quick I got out of the blocks ... I wasn't able to do that in the first two matches.

"What's nice about tonight is it was unexpected for me, unexpected for a lot of people apparently as well, and it was against a fellow top player.

"I expected and was ready for a battle. Five hours or something big.

"I was able to come through it in 1 hour 30. It's a great feeling."

Such was his dominance, a magical 18th major title heading Federer's way this month at Melbourne Park cannot be discounted.

His route to a final is arduous - next comes Japanese fifth seed Kei Nishikori, with world No.1 Andy Murray lurking as a possible quarter-final opponent.

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