Melbourne, Jan 21 (AFP) Defending champion Roger Federerbroke Stefan Edberg''s Australian Open record for match wins ashe cruised into the fourth round today.
The world number two was untroubled as he got pastone-time junior rival Xavier Malisse 6-3, 6-3, 6-1 in 1hr45min on Rod Laver Arena on the hottest day of the tournamentso far.
In doing so the Swiss maestro eclipsed Swede Edberg''srecord for most Open Era wins at the Australian Open with 57since his Melbourne debut in 2000.
"It''s very nice to take the record but Edberg still staysmy idol," Federer told the crowd on Rod Laver Arena.
Federer, bidding for his fifth Australian title and toextend his record Grand Slam haul to 17, will take on unseededSpaniard Tommy Robredo on Sunday for a place in thequarter-finals. He has not missed playing in a quarter-finalin Melbourne since 2003.
Federer made light of his desperate five-set escapeagainst Frenchman Gilles Simon in Wednesday''s second round tobreak Malisse''s serve seven times in his eighth win in ninemeetings with the Belgian.
"I thought today was intense too," Federer said. "Thefirst two sets almost didn''t reflect how tough it was.
"I think that maybe broke his will a little bit becausehe was up 3-1 in the second and I was able to come back andwin 11 straight games and I was able to do a few differentthings."
While David Nalbandian was spent after his gruellingfive-setter with Lleyton Hewitt and retired with dizzy spellsin the next round, durable Federer came back well from historrid win over Simon.
"I always said you can''t win a Grand Slam in the firstweek but you can lose it. Maybe that''s what happened toNalbandian," he said.
"Starting with such a tough match early on in thetournament down the stretch you get tough players, anothergrinder... and eventually it gets you.
"That''s what happened to him (Nalbandian). It''sunfortunate but it didn''t happen to me. I would have been okayplaying another one today, no problem."
Federer won his record 16th Grand Slam title at theAustralian Open last year when he downed Britain''s Andy Murrayin straight sets.
Federer, who had back issues at last year''s French Openand Wimbledon, said he has no similar problems in thistournament.
Federer has yet to lose to Robredo, his next opponent, innine matches, including a quarter-final here in 2007.
The Swiss has only failed to get past the third roundtwice in 12 Australian Opens, both in his first two visits toMelbourne. (AFP) PDS