- Associated Press - Thursday, January 7, 2016

BRISBANE, Australia (AP) - Roger Federer recalled the celebrations and the festive atmosphere of his 1,000th match victory on tour as soon as he returned to the Brisbane International to fine-tune his preparations for the Australian Open.

He achieved the milestone in the final here last year, when he beat Milos Raonic and shared the podium with some of the players he revered from a previous era.

His first practice was positive, he said, then he picked up an illness from one of his four kids - the whole family had it - and his attempt at a title defense was shaky for a while.

On the fifth day of the tournament, Federer finally opened his 2016 season with a commanding 6-2, 6-1 win over German qualifier Tobias Kamke, and advanced to a quarterfinal against Grigor Dimitrov, who beat Viktor Troicki 5-7, 7-6 (6), 6-2 earlier Thursday.

“It was a big deal for me (the 1,000th win). I didn’t expect it to be as big of a deal as it actually ended up being,” Federer said. “It was very special because it was a final … plus, Rod Laver and Roy Emerson were on the court to hand me the trophy and be in the picture with me and the number 1,000. I was happy I didn’t mess it up.”

The 17-time major winner converted five of his six breakpoint chances and saved the only one he faced against Kamke, finding his touch quickly and dispelling pre-match rumors that he might be carrying an injury.

Raonic, also back in action for the first time this season, defeated Croatia’s Ivan Dodig 6-7 (2), 6-1, 6-4 and will next meet Lucas Pouille, who upset sixth-seeded David Goffin 7-6 (5), 4-6, 6-3.

While the top-ranked women have succumbed to injuries or inconsistency in the first week of the season, Victoria Azarenka has maintained her surge in form.

The two-time Australian Open champion reached the Brisbane International semifinals by beating eighth-seeded Roberta Vinci 6-1, 6-2.

She has dropped just 10 games en route to the semis, where she’ll meet Samantha Crawford, a U.S. qualifier who beat Andrea Pektovic 6-3, 6-0.

Azarenka, who was limited to 23 tournaments across the last two seasons because of injuries, was broken once in each set but converted seven of her 11 breakpoint chances against Vinci, who ended Serena Williams’ bid for a true Grand Slam in the U.S. Open semifinals.

“I really had to take control in my own hands, because she comes up with some really difficult situations and combinations which keep you on your toes,” Azarenka said.

Fourth-seeded Angelique Kerber advanced past Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-4, 6-4, and will next play No. 6-seeded Carla Suarez Navarro, who held off Varvara Lepchenko 4-6, 6-4, 7-5.

At the ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand, third-seeded Caroline Wozniacki reached the semifinals with a 6-1, 6-0 win over Alexandra Dalgheru.

“I really hit it well, I went for my shots,” said Wozniacki, who made only eight unforced errors. “I came to the net - I didn’t even know I could volley like that, so I was pleasantly surprised.”

Wozniacki has a 5-0 record against her semifinal opponent, Sloane Stephens, who advanced 7-6 (6), 6-3 over British qualifier Naomi Broady.

In other quarterfinals, Tamira Paszek beat fellow qualifier Kirsten Flipkens 6-4, 6-7 (3), 6-3 and Julia Goerges outlasted Nao Hibino 6-7 (3), 6-2, 6-4.

At the Hopman Cup in Perth, Ukraine qualified for Saturday’s final with singles wins over the Australia Gold team of Jarmila Wolfe and Lleyton Hewitt.

Wolfe lost her singles to Elina Svitolina 6-3, 6-3 and former No. 1-ranked Hewitt, who will retire after the Australian Open in two weeks, fell 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 to Alexandr Dogopolov to give Ukraine an insurmountable 2-0 lead. Australia won the mixed doubles 3-6, 7-5, 10-5.

In a night tie, the U.S. beat the Czech Republic 2-1 in a matchup between teams already eliminated.

On Friday, unbeaten Australia Green can reach the final by beating winless France.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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