Awesome Tsonga thrashes Gil, Monfils backs out
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga produced a clinical display in disposing of Frederico Gil to reach the fourth round of the Australian Open.
The 2008 finalist has approached the first week of the opening major of the season with a steely determination he showed no mercy to a man making history by becoming the first Portuguese man to reach the third round of a grand slam.
Gil made a nervous start and it was seized on by Tsonga who cashed in to break in the opening game - showing his variety by advancing to the net and putting away a volley on break point.
Gil worked three break points on the opening Tsonga service game, but some huge serving helped the Frenchman hold from 0-40.
Gil got on the board with a love hold for 1-2 but that was one of the few highlights as Tsonga wrapped up the opening set in 29 minutes.
Tsonga broke early in second and some sloppy play from Gil handed the Frencmanh a double break. Tsonga, who at times produced some high-class tennis but was in cruise control for the most part, clinched the second set in style with a blistering forehand down the line that wrong-footed his opponent.
Tsonga earned a break at the start of the third set and after staving off a break point from Gil in the second game, powered through the remainder of the match to clinch a 6-2 6-2 6-2 win.
Bigger tasks lie ahead, with a potential clash against Andy Murray on the horizon, but on this form Tsonga may have high hopes of going one better than four years ago.
First he will have to get past 24th seed Kei Nishikori, however, as he is also through to the next stage after he got the better of Tsonga's compatriot Julian Benneteau.
Nishikora dropped the first set but kept his cool in two ensuing tiebreaks before using his stamina to stay the distance, eventually securing a 4-6 7-6(3) 7-6(4) 6-3 win.
One player Tsonga will not be facing in the remainder of the tournament, however, is Gael Monfils - who went out of the tournament in agonising fashion - both literally and figuratively - against Mikhail Kukushkin.
Kukushkin looked to be cruising when opponent Monfils was slowed by a back injury, but tightened up in the third set to allow his opponent back into the contest.
Monfils found the reserves to send the game to a fifth set - and quickly moved a break ahead - but the effort proved too much for him, with Kukushkin restoring parity before Monfils double-faulted to hand him a marathon 6-2 7-5 5-7 1-6 6-4 victory.
Elsewhere, Richard Gasquet made no mistakes against an out-of-sorts Janko Tipsarevic, powering to a 6-3 6-3 6-1 win over the No. 9 seed.
The Frenchman's reward is a fourth-round clash with David Ferrer who recovered from trailing 4-0 in the first set to run out a convincing 7-5 6-2 6-1 winner over Juan Ignacio Chela.