Federer ends Tomic’s Open campaign
Roger Federer closed down Bernard Tomic's Australian Open run on Saturday night.
It was billed as Roger’s Weekend at Bernie’s but Rod Laver Arena remains very much Federer’s house.
No man has won more Australian Open crowns at Melbourne Park than Federer and the Swiss master put paid to the apprentice’s immediate title ambitions with a sublime display on Saturday night.
Tomic’s 10 straight wins this summer may have instilled the local hope with unshakeable belief, but it counted for little as Federer swept imperiously to a 6-4 7-6(5) 6-1 victory in less than two hours.
Tomic was anything but poor, at times looking every bit a future Grand Slam champion, but the great Swiss had every answer in a high-quality third-round contest.
“I think we both played a great match,” Federer said.
“He has had a great run and really got the best out of me tonight, so I hope he can keep it up.
“He’s a big guy and he’s got a lot of power and a big serve and he uses it well … he’ll be tough to beat in the future, that’s for sure.”
It was Federer’s fourth win from as many meetings with Tomic and only Tomic’s fourth loss from his past 27 matches in Australia.
But just like in the fourth round last year and in Davis Cup in Sydney in 2011, it was Federer who brought the young man down.
“It’s important to take the right things out of a loss because usually you learn more when you lose,” said Federer, noting Tomic was a vastly more difficult proposition than 12 months ago.
“He’s more mature, a bit more power at times. It’s hard to explain; it’s just the whole package is a bit better.”
Only Canadian Milos Raonic, who Federer has never lost to either, stands between the 17-times major champion and a 35th consecutive Grand Slam quarterfinal appearance.
Bidding for an unprecedented fifth men’s Open title, Federer snared the only three breaks of the match against Tomic and offered up just one break point on his own serve in a commanding performance.
Tomic had won 76 consecutive service games and claimed to be in the best serving form of his career – yet Federer broke him in the opening game of the match.
Tomic admitted Federer’s introduction to the crowd had freaked him out early and contributed to his nervy start.
“I try to block out who’s on the other side of the net, but couldn’t quite do it after that announcement,” the challenger said.
“A lot of players, when you play these sort of players like Roger or Novak, you lose belief before you get into the match.
“Eighty or 90 per cent of players that play the top guys, like with Roger, you lose your belief.
“I got in there, I started to think after they mentioned all these Grand Slams leading up – Wimbledon champion six times, six times US Open champion … Then I was: ‘Oh, crap, it’s Roger.'”
“Yeah, but then that first service game was important. I lost it. Then I was like: ‘Oh, no.'”
It was the only break Federer needed as he powered through the first set in 34 minutes.
Tomic fought tooth and nail to stay in the second set, saving six break points to force the tiebreaker.
He produced a brilliant running forehand to jump to a 4-1 advantage and seemed poised to level the match up.
But from 5-3 down, Federer reeled off four consecutive points to snatch it.
Federer was in full flight now, breaking Tomic for 2-0 in the third with a ridiculous cross-court forehand swat before grabbing a double break with an off-forehand winner and serving it out after one hour and 58 minutes to notch a record 250th Grand Slam match win.
“I was pretty satisfied with my tennis,” Tomic said.
“I was competing out there, trying to hang in there with him. He just came up with good stuff when he really needed it the most.”