Flawless Federer Races Through First Test In Melbourne
After 21 consecutive appearances at the Australian Open, Roger Federer is familiar with every inch of Rod Laver Arena. The third-seeded Swiss brought the level of comfort that dozens of matches on a court can provide to his opening-round clash with Steve Johnson, sweeping aside the American 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 in a breathtaking display.
Federer said in his pre-tournament press conference that his expectations for this fortnight were low, but the six-time champion may want to raise them after his latest performance. He broke the American five times and remains unbeaten in opening-round matches in Melbourne (21-0). Federer has never lost before the third round at this event.
“I remember coming here for juniors in 1998 and then played qualies in the following year. I remember beating Michael Chang in my first main draw here [in 2000],” Federer said. “That was fun. Now he’s coaching against me [with Kei Nishikori], but we’re good friends because my kids are friends with his kids.”
Johnson arrived with confidence after winning an ATP Challenger Tour event last week in Bendigo. But his off-pace slice backhands and chip forehand returns played into Federer’s strengths, allowing the Swiss to attack with his forehand and move forward. A forehand volley winner gave Federer an immediate break in Johnson’s opening service game and he led 4-1 after 18 minutes.
Rain briefly brought both players off the court so the roof could be closed, but it did little to disrupt Federer’s momentum. He continued to coast in his service games and grabbed the early advantage.
Federer Prepared For ‘Tricky Situation’ To Start Australian Open
The second set was one-way traffic for Federer, who won 16 of the first 18 points and sprinted to a 4-0 lead. Even when Johnson made the correct play, he was often reduced to a spectator as he watched Federer whip winners past him. Federer landed 80 per cent of his first serves (16/20), consistently setting himself up for one-two punches to end points. A forehand winner from the Swiss, his 26th of the match, gave him a commanding two-sets lead.
Federer opened the third set by once again jumping out in front with an early break. He comfortably served out the match on his first try to wrap up play after just 85 minutes. Federer improved to 3-0 in his ATP Head2Head with Johnson and has yet to drop a set against the American.
Next up for Federer is Japanese wild card Tatsuma Ito or Indian lucky loser Prajnesh Gunneswaran.