|Novak Djokovic loses just two games and needs only 74 minutes to dispatch Nicolas Mahut. (Getty Images)|
MELBOURNE, Australia -- Novak Djokovic made sure Nicolas Mahut won't forget his 30th birthday in a hurry, routing the Frenchman 6-0, 6-1, 6-1 on Saturday to advance to the fourth round of the Australian Open.
Top-seeded Djokovic needed only 1 hour, 14 minutes to dismiss the Frenchman, who lost the longest match in Grand Slam history over 11 hours, 5 minutes against John Isner at Wimbledon in 2010.
"I wish him happy birthday and hopefully tonight he can enjoy it," Djokovic said.
Mahut was slowed by a left leg injury against the defending champion, who is aiming to become the fifth man in the Open era to win three consecutive major titles. Djokovic will play the winner of a later match between Milos Raonic and Lleyton Hewitt in the fourth round.
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Sharapova was tested for the first time and still came out with a 6-1, 6-2 win over Germany's Angelique Kerber.
The 2008 champion won her first two matches 6-0, 6-1 and has lost five games in reaching the fourth round, but though the scoreline on Saturday made it look easy enough, Sharapova was given a full workout in a 56-minute second set, with many games going to deuce.
After clinching the victory with a forehand winner, Sharapova showed her relief by clenching her fist and screeching "come on."
"She certainly stepped up in the second set," Sharapova said. "She reached the semifinals at the U.S. Open last year so she's been on the big stage before and I knew she could produce some really good tennis."
Sharapova and Kvitova both have a chance of claiming the No. 1 ranking at the end of the tournament. They could play each other in the semifinals, although Kvitova insisted she hasn't looked that far ahead.
"I don't know who lost and who win," the Wimbledon champion said. "No, really, for me doesn't care."
|Maria Sharapova has a chance to take over the No. 1 ranking at the end of the two-week tournament. (Getty Images)|
That was the same year the 24-year-old Serb won the French Open for her only Grand Slam title, and also claimed the top ranking.
"I still believe I can do well," Ivanovic said. "I'm just enjoying competing again. It's going to be tough [against Kvitova], but I love challenges."
King's loss left Serena Williams as the only American player left in the singles draws after John Isner's loss on Friday ended any hope of a men's champion from the United States.
Five-time champion Williams, hoping to win her 17th straight match at Melbourne Park, was up against Greta Arn of Hungary in a later match Saturday.
Djokovic was ruthless against the hobbling Mahut. When the Frenchman won his first game early in the second set, he stretched his arms out to welcome a huge cheer from the crowd as he walked back to the service line.
Djokovic hardly made a mistake as he won 11 of the next 12 games and finished with eight unforced errors. He has won 24 straight sets at the Australian Open, and has lost 10 games in his first three matches this time.
"I always played well in Australia. This is the only Grand Slam I won twice," he said. "The reason that I skipped the opening week of the season was because I wanted to get ready for Melbourne.
"The conditions are great. They're very suitable to my style of the game, day and night. I'm really looking forward to next week."
In all six Frenchmen reached the third round. Tsonga wasted hardly any time becoming the first of them to move into the Round of 16. The 2008 finalist took six of his seven break-point opportunities and saved all five against him.
"I had to take it seriously and this is what I did. I'm just really happy to go through," said Tsonga, who will face Kei Nishikori of Japan next.
Nishikori became the first Japanese man to reach the fourth round in Melbourne in the Open era with a 4-6, 7-6 (3), 7-6 (4), 6-3 win over unseeded Frenchman Julien Benneteau.
Richard Gasquet, the fourth highest-ranked Frenchman at No. 18, knocked out ninth-seeded Janko Tipsarevic 6-3, 6-3, 6-1. He will play fifth-seeded David Ferrer, who lost the first four games against Juan Ignacio Chela before recovering to win 7-5, 6-2, 6-1.