World No. 3, Roger Federer has expressed satisfaction with his early-season form after cruising to the third round of the Australian Open on Wednesday night.
The great Swiss dismissed Filip Krajinovic 6-1 6-4 6-1 to advance to the third round in Melbourne for the 21st time. Since making his Australian Open main draw debut in 2000, Federer has never fallen before the third round, building up a cumulative 41-0 record in the first two rounds of the Australian Open.
Prior to the start of the Australian Open, Federer had not played competitive tennis in 2020, opting out of the season-opening ATP Cup partly to keep himself fresh for the first major of the year. The early evidence suggests that it was a brilliant decision. Federer is no stranger to winning Grand Slam titles after a bit of a hiatus- he won the 2017 Australian Open after missing the previous six months due to injury.
He has returned refreshed, re-energized, and clearly raring to go!
Federer has dropped just in 12 games in his two Australian Open matches so far, beating Steve Johnson 6-3 6-2 6-2 in the first round before dispatching Krajinovic on Wednesday night.
“I am very happy. It is a great start to the season so far,” said Federer. “I am feeling really relaxed out on the court. I trained hard and you hope it pays off and not that it was all for nothing this week. I am happy, I am still going and I am looking forward to the next one.”
The Swiss made an electric start against Krajinovic, ripping 14 winners as he breezed through the first set in 21 minutes. Things threatened to get really ugly for Krajinovic when Federer broke to open the second set, but to his great credit, the Serbian dug deep to break back for 4-4. However, having worked so hard to get back into the match, his forecourt skills let him down in next game, committing a couple of errors at the net to hand Federer another break. The great Swiss served out the set without much fuss.
Federer stormed through the rest of the match- he was particularly savage on Krajinovic’s second serve, reducing the Serbian to just 2 of 15 points. Victory over Krajinovic took Federer to 99 match wins at the Australian Open, and he will get the chance to complete the century when he faces John Millman in the third round on Friday.
Federer doesn’t necessarily need any help in navigating the early stages of the majors, but the draw is panning out nicely for the great Swiss, with most of the seeded players in his quarter already out of the way. Matteo Berrettini, Hubert Hurkacz and Grigor Dimitrov all fell on Wednesday, while Denis Shapovalov and Borna Coric crashed out in the opening round. The highest ranked players left in Federer’s half of the draw are 12th seed, Fabio Fognini, who has already played 10 sets to get through two rounds, and 22nd seed, Guido Pella.
Not that Federer will get complacent- no chance- especially against Millman, who sensationally eliminated the Swiss in the fourth round of the US Open in 2018.
“[Millman] is a great guy. I practised a lot with him and I almost passed out when I played against him in New York,” said Federer. “It was so hot. He had no problem, he’s from Queensland… He never came to check on me [to see] if I passed out after that match but I didn’t, I’m here”.
“I played him two other times, once in Brisbane and I almost lost that one too. The other time was in Halle last year. He is super good guy, unbelievably tough opponent. There are not many fitter guys than him out there and those are the guys I respect the most, actually. He gets absolutely the most out of the game and I hope it is going to be a great match with some great rallies.”
The 38-year-old is looking to win his 21st Grand Slam title; and his first since the 2017 Australian Open. He came mighty close at Wimbledon last year, when he held two match points in that epic final against Novak Djokovic, but he faltered with the finish line in sight.
The great Swiss could well continue his rivalry with Djokovic in Melbourne, with the pair projected to meet in the semi-finals. Federer’s immediate focus is on John Millman, whom he faces in the third round on Friday.