Melbourne: Roger Federer and Andy Murray were locked on collision course at the Australian Open as an unstoppable Serena Williams powered towards her third straight Grand Slam title.
     
As Novak Djokovic regrouped after his late-night thriller against Stanislas Wawrinka, Federer and Murray had no such problems as they breezed into the quarter-finals.
     
Murray had the simplest of tasks against a weakened Gilles Simon, still struggling after his marathon win over Gael Monfils, while Federer easily had the weapons to deal with the machine-gun serve of Milos Raonic.
     
Federer, playing in the showpiece evening match on Rod Laver Arena, needed a solitary break to edge the first set, and then won tiebreaker for the second before he swept through the last to take it 6-4, 7-6 (7/4), 6-2.
     
The Swiss master, now into his 35th consecutive Grand Slam quarter-final and seeking his 18th major title, said "good reflexes" were the key to coping with Raonic's bullet serve.
     
"You try to anticipate a bit, and it happened better and better as the match went on," he said. "It's important to stay focused. I have learned that over the years, and it pays off in the end."
     
While defending champion Djokovic battled to recover from his five-hour, five-set win which concluded in the early hours of Monday, Simon was still struggling from his marathon victory over Gael Monfils a day earlier.
     
The Frenchman, who could hardly walk after wrapping up the five-setter post-midnight, was in no state to face US Open champion Murray, and he quickly went down 6-3, 6-1, 6-3, calling it "a painful hour-and-a-half."
     
"Yesterday I was just biking 20 minutes, you know, stretching, massage, cold bath. I did everything I could," said Simon. "But it's difficult when you run a marathon two days before to go for one more two days after."

(Agencies)

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