MELBOURNE • Roger Federer has no intention of sending his fans into mourning by thinking about retiring from tennis as his “lights are on green”.
He is chasing a hat-trick of titles, and his seventh, at the Australian Open, and he showed his form and fitness yesterday with a comfortable straight-sets win over 21-year-old American Taylor Fritz.
After advancing to the fourth round of a Grand Slam for the 64th time with a 6-2, 7-5, 6-2 victory, the 37-year-old claimed he had absolutely “no complaints and no plans” to hang up his racket.
He said: “I’m injury-free, enjoying myself. The kids are having a great time too on the (ATP) Tour.
“My wife’s happy. I’m just happy where I am in my life, in my career right now.”
Based on the evidence at Melbourne Park, the Swiss remains on another level and welcomes the challenge from any of the young contenders who are increasingly making their presence felt.
Tomorrow, he will test himself against one of the best of the rising prospects, Stefanos Tsitsipas, who is the Next Generation champion.
SELECTED DAY 5 RESULTS
MEN, 3RD RD
Marin Cilic (Cro) bt Fernando Verdasco (Esp) 4-6 3-6 6-1 7-6(10-8) 6-3, Roberto Bautista Agut (Esp) bt Karen Khachanov (Rus) 6-4 7-5 6-4, Frances Tiafoe (USA) bt Andreas Seppi (Ita) 6-7(3-7) 6-3 4-6 6-4 6-3, Stefanos Tsitsipas (Gre) bt Nikoloz Basilashvili (Geo) 6-3 3-6 7-6(9-7) 6-4, Grigor Dimitrov (Bul) bt Thomas Fabbiano (Ita) 7-6(7-5) 6-4 6-4, Tomas Berdych (Cze) bt Diego Schwartzman (Arg) 5-7 6-3 7-5 6-4.
WOMEN, 3RD RD
Petra Kvitova (Cze) bt Belinda Bencic (Sui) 6-1 6-4, Amanda Anisimova (USA) bt Aryna Sabalenka (Blr) 6-3 6-2, Danielle Collins (USA) bt Caroline Garcia (Fra) 6-3 6-2, Angelique Kerber (Ger) bt Kimberly Birrell (Aus) 6-1 6-0.
The world No. 15 had earlier joked he would be “thrilled” to play Federer next and fought hard to get past Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili in five sets.
“If I had known that Roger was 2-0 up when I said that, I probably wouldn’t have said it,” the 20-year-old Greek, who played against Federer in the Hopman Cup earlier this month, admitted afterwards.
“I learnt a lot since my last match with him. I know the patterns that he’s using a bit better now.
“He’s serving really well, I’m pretty sure he’s going to be serving well (in the next match), so the return games need to be aggressive and pressing a lot.
“He’s a legend of our sport. It will be a great day facing him in one of the best arenas, Rod Laver. I’m really excited for that match.”
Recalling the match in which he needed two tie-breaks to win to take his country through to the Cup final, Federer revealed respect was mutual ahead of their match-up, which will be only the second time the duo have faced each other.
The former world No. 1 told reporters: “I’m happy I played against him at the Hopman Cup (in Perth).
“He played really well there. It was really high-quality tennis. This is obviously a different type of match, it being best of five, and the fourth round of a Slam.
“I like how he mixes up his game and also comes to the net. So will I. We will see some athletic, attacking tennis being played.”
Like Federer, Rafael Nadal also had to face another young gun in 19-year-old Alex de Minaur in the third round and, in a carbon copy of his rival’s display, the Spaniard put on a masterclass to brush aside the Australian 6-1, 6-2, 6-4.
While there were doubts over his fitness after he pulled out of his Brisbane warm-up with a thigh niggle, his fitness has yet to be called into question, and Nadal fired a warning at Czech Tomas Berdych, his opponent tomorrow, that he was getting “a little bit better” every day.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN
Day 6: Singtel TV Ch114/115 & StarHub Ch208/209, 8am & 4pm
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