January 26, 2020
You know what everyone was saying about Roger Federer after his marathon against John Millman?
“He won the match but used up so much energy that he will have no chance when he comes up against the big boys.”
Well, the tennis world might just have to reconsider that verdict.
Federer looked remarkably fresh against Marton Fucsovics, even though he dropped the first set.
The footwork and forehand soon returned with a vengeance. Suddenly Federer was rolling back the years once more.
He was enjoying himself. He was even getting his challenges right.
Most important of all, the match – and particularly the last three sets – flashed by as Federer won 4-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 in just two hours and ten minutes.
Next up is Tennys Sandgren, who defeated Fabio Fognini in four. The American is very physical. Something of a tennis beast. So Roger will have to tame him quickly.
But if he can reproduce this sort of form and avoid another war of attrition, Federer is back in contention for the title.
Just when everyone had started to write him off.
Federer said: ‘It was a tough start, it took some time but I had a good start to the second set and it got easier from there.
‘The morning after the match against John, it was tough to stand up but I was able to recover and play a good match tonight and I’m sure I’m going to feel better every day.
‘Tennys Sandgren? I’ve played a lot of tennis in my career but never against Tennys.’
And a super-relaxed Federer knows how to get it done in Melbourne. He has won two of the last three Aussie Opens.
Novak Djokovic is still the heavy favourite, of course. But he will play Milos Raonic in what promises to be a thrilling quarter-final.
For Djokovic, it is the eleventh time he has reached this stage in Australia.
And the way he took apart the in-form Diego Schwartzman 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 suggests that Novak has every chance of adding an eighth Australian Open title to his growing Grand Slam collection.
But Raonic will be no pushover. He is looking lean and mean and probably enjoying his best vein of form since he reached the Wimbledon final back in 2016.
The big Canadian has taken advantage of a healthy block of fitness to improve his mobility.
It paid off as he defeated another Wimbledon finalist, Marin Cilic 6-3, 6-4, 7-5 with relative ease.
And Raonic, now 29, looks noticeably more relaxed than he has in previous years.
Could an upset be on the cards? Probably not, given how ruthless Djokovic has been already. But rule nothing out at the business end in Melbourne.
Maybe Raonic can take enough out of Djokovic to make the Serb’s projected semi-final clash with Federer very interesting indeed.
And there was even better news for Federer fans. While wishing everyone happy Australia Day, he expressed the desire to be in Melbourne again next year to do the same.
So when we predicted that Federer would play into 2021, and not retire this year as so many foresaw, we might just have been right.
Body allowing, that certainly seems to be his intention.