Ailing former champion Stan Wawrinka is quietly confident of continuing his push for a second crown with victory over Milos Raonic in the first heavyweight battle of the Australian Open.
Wawrinka shrugged off the effects of a lingering cold to cruise into the fourth round at Melbourne Park without dropping a set.
The fourth-seeded 2014 champion continued his trouble-free campaign on Saturday with a 6-2 6-3 7-6 (7-3) victory over Czech Lukas Rosol.
Wawrinka’s win sets up a showdown on Monday with 13th seed Raonic for a place in the quarter-finals.
The Swiss ace has won all four previous meetings with Raonic and again fancies his chances of finding a way to negotiate the Canadian’s thunderous serve.
“He’s tough player, for sure. I’ve never lost, but it’s always been a tough match,” Wawrinka said.
“He’s been playing really good since the beginning of the year, winning the first title in Brisbane against Roger (Federer) in the final.
“He’s trying to improve. He’s trying to go there. He’s trying to win a big title. It will be a difficult match, for sure.
“He’s serving big … I still think it depends a lot on my game, of what I’m going to do, of where I’m going to be on the court, the way I’m going to serve.
“In general, I always find some solution to break his serve, even if it’s really tough. We’ll see.”
Raonic also eased into the last 16 with a straight-sets victory over Serb Viktor Troicki, the Canadian dedicating the win to the four victims of the shooting tragedy in Saskatchewan.
Raonic didn’t face a break point on his serve as he breezed through the first two sets on Margaret Court Arena but had to fight back from an early break in the third to record the 6-2 6-3 6-4 win.
Fellow power-server John Isner also advanced on Saturday to the second week.
The 10th seed Isner recovered from a set down to defeat Spanish 18th seed Feliciano Lopez 6-7 (8-10) 7-6 (7-5) 6-2 6-4 in a high-speed serving shootout on Hisense Arena.
Isner and Lopez entered the third-round contest as the tournament’s top two on the ace leaderboard and the American came out well on top to progress to the fourth round after two hours and 53 minutes.
Isner crunched 44 aces in total to take his Open tally to 101 and set up a clash with Spanish eighth seed David Ferrer, a 6-1 6-4 6-4 winner over American Steve Johnson.
Flamboyant Frenchman Gael Monfils is also through after ending the qualifying run of countryman Stephane Robert 7-5 6-3 6-2.