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Djokovic flying in Australian Open tennis

Thursday, January 22, 2009 , Posted by Linda at 10:51 AM

MELBOURNE (AFP) – Defending champion Novak Djokovic hit top gear in a sparkling Australian Open performance on Wednesday as former winners Roger Federer and Marat Safin set up the clash of the third round.

Djokovic flying in Australian Open tennis Serbia's Novak Djokovic keeps eyes on the ball against France's Jeremy Chardy at the Australian

Taiwan's Lu Yen-Hsun produced the biggest shock so far as he ousted 10th seed David Nalbandian, while Spanish number two David Ferrer, Croatia's Marin Cilic and Czech player Tomas Berdych made it safely through.

Djokovic was in irresistible form against Jeremy Chardy of France, winning 7-5, 6-1, 6-3 as he shrugged off an indifferent start to the year.

"I think I'm playing better and better every match, so this is really important. This is something that I planned to do," he said.

"If I keep the high level of performance and a good game, I will hopefully get far in the tournament."

Djokovic next faces Bosnian-born American Amer Delic, who appealed for local fans to keep a lid on simmering ethnic tensions between Serbian, Bosnian and Croatian fans.

Rival groups of fans taunted each other during Delic's match with France's Paul-Henri Mathieu, raising fears of a return of sectarian rioting which marred the last two editions.

"Today was bad when the other (fans) came across -- I'm just hoping with Novak that it doesn't turn into World War III," Delic said.

Meanwhile Federer, seeking a record-equalling 14th Grand Slam, turned on the style against qualifier Evgeny Korolev to set up a mouth-watering third-round clash with long-time foe Safin.

The two former number ones, who have never played so early at a Grand Slam, have a memorable history here with Federer winning the 2004 final but being ousted in a classic semi by Safin a year later.

"We go way back. Him, of course, being a former number one, same as me, and a former Grand Slam champion, it's an intriguing match-up," Federer said.

"Back when he was really at his very best, we had similar personalities growing up. I sort of chilled out and he kept on going. But it was always a good match-up."

Federer has won their previous three meetings, including last year's Wimbledon semi-final, and holds a 9-2 record against the Russian.

Safin also said he was relishing Friday's clash, which promises to be the pick of the third round.

"Unfortunately I haven't won a lot of matches against him, but I'm looking forward to it," said the Russian, who beat Spain's Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 7-5, 6-2, 6-2.

"It's another chance. I have nothing to lose. I'm going to go for it -- whatever comes, comes."

Ferrer dismissed Slovakian veteran Dominik Hrbaty in straight sets, while Cilic's potential flashpoint match against Serbian Janko Tipsarevic passed off peacefully.

Tommy Robredo, Mardy Fish and Swiss number two Stanislas Wawrinka were the other seeds through.

American seventh seed Andy Roddick was playing Xavier Malisse and Australian sensation Bernard Tomic, 16, was taking centre stage for the day's late match with Luxembourg's Gilles Muller.

World number one Rafael Nadal is in the other half of the draw along with British hope Andy Murray.

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