Roger Federer turned on the style in Melbourne on Sunday night, as the great Swiss fought back from a set down to ease past Marton Fucsovics and move into the quarter finals of the Australian Open.
Two days after securing his 100th Australian match win with his third round victory over John Millman, Federer was inevitably creating more records on Sunday. The 38-year-old became the first man to reach 15 Australian Open quarter finals, breaking his previous tie with John Newcombe, while he took his overall Grand Slam quarter final tally to 57.
While Federer wasn’t poor against Fucsovics in the first set, he was challenged by an opponent who played at a consistently high level, with the belief that he could create the upset on Sunday night. Fucsovics seemed to surprise Federer with the accuracy and efficiency of his slice backhand, often drawing errors from the Swiss in an intriguing opening set.
The first six games passed without any break points, but Federer blinked in the seventh game, slipping to a 0-40 deficit when an attempted serve-and-volley ended in the net. The six-time champion saved the first two break points in the forecourt, but he could do nothing about the third, erring in his response to Fucsovics’ well struck forehand.
The Hungarian consolidated with a hold to love, and served out the opener a couple of games later. That was the first set he would take off Federer on their third meeting.
“It was a tough start, I thought Marton played clean,” said Federer. “I guess it was the rest of the Millman match, that guy gave me a beatdown from the baseline, so maybe it took my confidence away a little bit and I think it just took some time.”
The loss of that opening set jolted Federer into action, and the Swiss began to impose his stroke-making genius on the underdog. After holding to open the second set, Federer went after Fucsovics in the next game. The world No. 3 opened the game with a sumptuous backhand winner down the line, while another winner, this time, off the forehand wing, gave him the 15-40 lead- his first break points of the match. The 38-year-old converted off a Fucsovics error.
Federer saved a break point en route a 4-1 lead, but he then got the insurance break for 5-1, before serving out the set in the next game.
By the start of the third set, Federer was in full flow, entertaining with his wonderful array of shot-making. The Swiss great unfurled a backhand winner to open the set, while a sublime drop shot winner got him to 0-30. He would go on to get the break after a bamboozled Fucsovics sent an attempted drop shot into the net on break point.
The Hungarian constantly shot confident stares at his box during the first set, but that had disappeared by the third set, replaced by looks of despair as Federer surgically extracted every atom of belief from the world No. 67.
“I was looking to mix it up a little bit more. It gets really slow in the night time, especially when it is cool like this, so I just had to figure it out and I finally found a way,” explained Federer. “I had a good start to the second set and from then on, things got a little bit easier.”
“Things went very quick. I think it’s good for me to know that I can put streaks like this together,” said Federer. “I think in any tournament I played very well, I had those streaks happening at some point.”
Federer brought out the full repertoire in the second half of this match, and was sometimes on the verge of arrogance with the audacity and experimentation in some of his shot selection. It was exhibition stuff for much of the third and fourth sets, as the great Swiss raced through the rest of the match, sealing the 4-6 6-1 6-2 6-2 victory in two hours and 11 minutes.
The six-time champion moves into the quarter finals, where he will take on American, Tennys Sandgren, a four-set victor over Fabio Fognini on Sunday.