INDIAN WELLS, California: Roger Federer was more than a match for the firepower of Ivo Karlovic Monday, beating the towering Croatian in straight sets to reach the fourth round of the Indian Wells hardcourt tennis tournament.
The Swiss world number two, seeded second in the first ATP Masters series of 2009 behind world number one Rafael Nadal, needed only 70 minutes to notch a 7-6 (7/4), 6-3 victory - his seventh over Karlovic in eight career meetings.
Federer, who is playing his first tournament since falling to Nadal in the Australian Open final, next faces Chile's Fernando Gonzalez, who dispatched American James Blake 7-5, 6-1.
The Swiss star said he expects Gonzalez to provide a more searching test of his ground game than he has faced so far.
Federer remained on course for a possible semi-final clash with fourth-seeded Briton Andy Murray, who beat France's Paul-Henri Mathieu 6-3, 6-2.
Murray, who won two titles this year in Doha and Rotterdam before being slowed by a virus, made short work of Mathieu, who reached the semi-finals at Brisbane in January but has now failed to win back-to-back matches in six tournaments since.
Murray next faces Spain's Tommy Robredo, a 7-5, 7-6 (7/2) winner over Croatian Marin Cilic.
Croatian veteran Ivan Ljubicic advanced at the expense of eighth-seeded Frenchman Gilles Simon. Ljubicic beat the Australian Open quarter-finalist 6-3, 7-6 (7/3).
Ljubicic next plays Russian Igor Andreev, who bounced another Frenchman, beating 11th-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-5, 6-4.
On the women's side, defending champion Ana Ivanovic defeated tenacious Argentinian Gisela Dulko 6-3, 6-3 to reach the fourth round.
Seeded fifth in a draw topped by world number two Dinara Safina, Ivanovic said the good form she has been feeling in practice was beginning to show in matches.
Ivanovic next faces 12th-seeded Italian Flavia Pennetta, who rallied for a 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 victory over American qualifier Angela Haynes.
Seventh-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland also advanced with a 6-1, 6-4 victory over Canadian Aleksandra Wozniak.
Russia's world No. 42 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who ousted second-seeded Jelena Jankovic in the second round, kept her campaign alive with a 6-2, 6-4 victory over Italian Karin Knapp.
But Czech qualifier Petra Cetkovska, who shocked Olympic champion Elena Dementieva in the second round couldn't build on that success.