Federer powers home in mighty comeback
Roger Federer fans panicking after his Friday night marathon against John Millman can rest easy. Two days on, order is restored.
It was not always straightforward against Marton Fucsovics, Fed dropping the first set but lifting himself immediately with early breaks in the next three sets seeing him home 4-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 and into the quarter-finals.
Recovering from Friday night had led to the slow beginning Federer said.
"It was a tough start, after I played Johnny (Millman) I laid in bed for an hour (thinking) when am I going to get up?"
It was cold, "frosty" almost, Federer said, "for Australia it is very different but I think we all prefer it this way".
His game, as it should be for a 38-year-old, is now about economy of movement, fewer tournaments and getting the job done quickly. It has made him more aggressive and prone to errors but after the sloppy start was dispensed with, this was vintage Federer, smooth and seductive and winning.
The fans, almost exclusively, were for the Swiss on an increasingly chilly and breezy Rod Laver Arena. But no one leaves early when Fed is holding court and so it proved even though an hour from the end we all knew where the result was heading.
Fucsovics, at 27-years-old, younger, taller and lighter, simply disappeared as the night wore on, his first serve atrocious, less than half his first serves in.
The Hungarian arrived with a mixed 2020, coming through qualifying to win four out of five matches in Doha before switching to the Bendigo Challenger where he made hasty exit to a player with a world ranking of 349.
He has excelled in Melbourne however, seeing off the 13th seed, and highly rated, Denis Shapovalov, in four sets followed by wins over teenage prodigy Jannick Sinner and up and coming American Tommy Paul in round three.
But Federer is another challenge entirely despite a Saturday 12.50am finish when he finally saw off Millman in five sets, a physical (and emotional to a lesser degree) battering for a 38-year-old.
For all that he has an unsurpassed career, his glory years lie in the first decade of this millennium and we are now in its third decade. He has won five majors over the past 10 years - immensely impressive of course - but his winning years were way before. It shows just how long he has been around.
Unusually, Federer's last eight encounter promises, on paper, to be easier still.
Tennys Sandgren, a solid unit from southern America playing with one leg patched up with black tape - but which did not stand in his way of beating the mercurial Fabio Fognini in the last 16 - is next. He is ranked 100, a journeyman, but this is his second quarter-final in three years in Melbourne.
Do not expect Fed to lose.