Like he wasn’t 35 or had missed six months of the tour, Roger Federer rolled past world No. 10 Tomas Berdych 6-2, 6-4, 6-4 to reach the fourth round at the Australian Open.
A flawless Federer never faced a breakpoint winning a personal Grand Slam-best 39 of 41 points on first serve with 8 aces, 40 winners to just 17 unforced errors.
Federer improves to 4-0 against Berdych at the Australian Open and 17-6 overall winning 14 straight sets.
Federer’s quick, 90-minute win came after scratchy performances against qualifiers Jurgen Melzer and Noah Rubin.
Q. After six months off of the tour, did you expect to play like that tonight?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, I was hoping to play good against better ranked players because I guess I know them more and I know these matchups so well over the years that maybe sometimes it’s easier to play against them than it is against a qualifier, somebody I’ve only played a few times.
So I didn’t expect it as such, to be honest, especially not this kind of a scoreline, especially not having to save no breakpoints, just always rolling on the serve. That was a big surprise to me.
I think it was a great mental test for me to see if I could stay, you know, in the match point for point, keep rolling. I was able to do that. That’s where I’m just really happy that I was able to deliver that.
From the baseline, honestly I felt worlds better than in the first couple of rounds. Yeah, it’s wonderful. I’m really happy, yeah, of course.
Q. How relieved do you feel after such a comfortable win against a good player?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, it’s great because I knew it was going to be a tough draw. Hadn’t seen Tomas play for some time, but I still expected him to come out and serve big, like he did, and stay in the game. I feel like he’s a really good player on fast courts. That’s where he’s caused me most difficulties, if you think about it, over the years.
He did, I think, serve over 10 aces against me in a quick match. So what else? Yeah, I mean, it’s just crazy how quick I got out of the blocks. That’s what I was hoping for, because I wasn’t able to do that in the first two matches. Today I was able to. What a difference it was in the feeling afterwards.
Yeah, it’s a big relief. But like I said at the beginning of the tournament, any result was going to be a good result for me just because I can test myself in a match situation against professional tennis players. That’s what it’s about for me this week.
Obviously you’re in a fourth round, and it feels good because I did play this great match against Tomas.
Q. Was there any sense of, Wow, I can still do this?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, it’s nice to do it over best-of-five sets. Even though it wasn’t five sets, but three sets, it’s just nice to know that you could do it.
In practice, like I said on the court, I played some really good practice sets. It gives you a good feeling. You go home and you sleep better because of it, but it doesn’t really buy me anything.
It’s a good feeling that I was able to come through in such a solid match, just feel good on serve, on the baseline. My movement was there. Everything clicked. So that was nice.
Q. In his post-match interview, Tomas just said, I wish I was in the crowd watching this match, not to be on the court.
ROGER FEDERER: Who said that?
Q. Tomas. What do you say about it?
ROGER FEDERER: Look, these interviews are not easy after matches. Yeah, it’s a good quote like this. You don’t talk about other things. He just wants to get out of here, I promise you that. But it’s good to have fun with it sometimes. These matches, you just want to forget about them.
Q. Your ranking is world No. 70. Kei is No. 5. Next match, are you a challenge for Kei next round?
ROGER FEDERER: If I am? If he’s the favorite or…
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, sure, he’s the favorite. Maybe. I don’t know (smiling).
It doesn’t matter. I still have to play Kei. If he’s the favorite, I’m the favorite, I don’t know. But he’s definitely played better and more tennis in recent months. But then again, it’s a new season. We’ll see what happens.
But I’m a big fan of his game. He’s got one of the best backhands out there. I love how he can crush it down the line or crosscourt. He’s got wonderful second serve returns. He’s fast on his legs. Strong in his mind. I know how tough he is as the match goes along. He finds his range and his rhythm, he’s tough to stop.
We had a great match at the World Tour Finals a bit over a year back. Yeah, I’ve lost to him a couple of times as well. I’m aware of the big test for me.
This one’s going to be completely different to Tomas. Not so much just serving, serving, serving, but there’s going to be more rallies, even though the surface remains fast. I said it at the beginning of the week, it’s not easy to control the ball. Today again, when you serve well, it pays dividends.
I hope I can keep that up against Kei. It’s definitely an exciting match for me, anyway.
Q. I’m working on something on the difference between men’s and women’s serves. You played mixed at the Hopman Cup for the first time in a while. What did you see returning women’s service versus men’s, obviously besides pace?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, I guess pace is the number one thing. Then number two, I feel that probably they have a tougher time to disguise the serve. Even though there is some good servers there, they have a nice motion and all that, but the serve is tricky. It’s like a golf shot. You have time to set it up. You learn a certain way as a kid. To change it is always kind of tricky after that.
I think that first coach that teaches you the serve is super important. Maybe emphasis in the women’s game is not the number one. They spend much more time returning, I feel, that we don’t do at all. I don’t anyway. I don’t practice my return at all.
I couldn’t believe how good Bencic was on the return. She would crush all my second serves. I told her where I was going to go. That was something I can do. I was impressed with that.
On the serve, I’m not sure how much they work, how much the shoulder allows them to do. It is a different body.
Yeah, so I think the disguise is probably the other thing, then the size. They’re not our height, which allows them not to find certain angles as it is for us.
Q. What were your thoughts about the Djokovic loss yesterday? Did you expect anything happening like that?
ROGER FEDERER: No. I didn’t see it coming. I mean, I love Denis. He’s the nicest guy. He’s got a lot of fans in the locker room because he’s always super sweet and everything. Great player, good shot-maker. I didn’t see this one coming.
I’m happy for Denis. It’s a tough one for Novak. Until the very, very end, I still believed that Novak was going to turn it around, like everybody else.
Yeah, it’s why we love live sports. It’s why we watch it. It’s why people come to the stadium, people watch it on the TV. You just don’t know the outcome. Even though the odds are crazy in somebody’s favor, there’s always the chance for the big upset. That’s why I’m a big sportsfan. VoilÃ .
Q. You were so much on fire tonight. An outstanding display of shot making. The dropshots, the backhand.
ROGER FEDERER: Thank you. Keep going. Keep going. It’s good, it’s good (smiling).
Q. You’ve had many wonderful performances.
ROGER FEDERER: Thank you (smiling).
Q. Can you possibly compare this performance to some of the really great and sublime performances you’ve had at the Open or Wimbledon against Andre?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I’m sure I’ve done some sort of a performance like this. When you don’t get broken, you don’t have to save any breakpoints, you’re always in the lead, it’s always easier to play. Let’s be honest. It’s easier to be in the lead, be the frontrunner.
I think the top guys have done a great job of always protecting the lead. I’ve done it tonight, like I’ve had to do so many times in my career. What’s nice about tonight is it was unexpected for me, unexpected for a lot of people apparently as well, and it was against a fellow top player.
I expected, was ready for a battle, five hours, something big. Had it all written over it. I was able to come through it in 1 hour 20, 1 hour 30, however long the match was. It’s a great feeling.
I’ve definitely feel like I have had this feeling before, where you feel like you’re probably not going to lose this one if you keep being focused.
I did get nervous at the end. I still believed that there is going to be that hiccup, it has to happen. It didn’t happen and I’m here now and it’s good.
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