It was probably the best storyline the 2013 Australian Open could come up with this year as 4-time champion Roger Federer faced off against brash youngster Bernard Tomic in the third round on a clear Saturday night.
A packed house including the tennis greats from all eras looked on as the two played inspiring tennis for two sets. Federer served incredibly. The accuracy and consistency of his serve routinely put Tomic at a disadvantage, making the tall Aussie lad stretch and play from areas of the court that he wasn’t comfortable from.
That pressure built up throughout the match on Tomic, as he pressed more often, more of his groundies began to misfire. Both of his down the line shots would sail wide and when Federer pushed the issue with forehand cross court rallies, it was Tomic who tried to hit harder and flatter, producing the errors that Federer needed.
It was unfortunate that Tomic couldn’t capitalize on any of the big points that could’ve swayed the momentum. He was lucky to keep his serve after facing ump-teen break points in the first two sets, but in the biggest moments of the match especially in the second set tiebreaker, he just wasn’t able to execute.
Federer’s all court game was on display, but most importantly taking a 29-shot rally in the second set tiebreak to steal the mini-break back from Tomic and run away with the match. During that rally Federer hit a few backhands that were simply fantastic. On the run or standing on the baseline, he nimbly picked up the heavy groundstrokes from Tomic and sent them deep, keeping himself in the rally and not backing down. Given the circumstances, situation, and pressure, for Fed to have come up with those backhands is astounding.
Routing Tomic in the third 6-1, Federer proved his continuing dominance over players outside the top 5 and lives another day to showcase his remarkable timing, fluid serve, and flashy all court game that we all love to watch and analyze. Good on ya mate!