Federer in fabulous form to start Australian Open

Cesar Mills
January 17, 2018

The 36-year-old defending champion picked up where he left off in Melbourne, beating Aljaz Bedene 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 in a night match, his first on Rod Laver Arena since clinching a career-reviving title here last year.

And Juan Martin del Potro shrugged off his disappointing Auckland Classic final defeat to Roberto Bautista Agut at the weekend by flattening American youngster Frances Tiafoe 6-3 6-4 6-3 to set up a meeting with 21-year-old Karen Khachanov from Russian Federation.

The only move of doubt came when he failed to serve out the second set at the first attempt, but he was not seriously disturbed as he cinched victory in 1hr 51mins.

Federer is coming off an extraordinary 2017, when he won a fifth Australian Open title and a record eighth at Wimbledon, after returning from an injury lay-off. "I played ideal tennis, like I never stopped".

"Maybe, maybe not. Don't they get eaten at the end?"

"It was a fun interview, I thought".

"If you see an NBA (basketball) player or an NFL (American football) player you think seven figures in their bank account and I don't think that's the case even for some players who make the main draw at Grand Slams".

"The question is, is our game good enough?"

"I feel like sometimes some players have gotten a little bit too robot-like".

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Tennis fans at Rod Laver Arena on Tuesday night were privileged to see the 18-time grand slam victor do as only he can before being treated to a special one-off on-court interview.

The way things are shaping there could be yet more glory for him, with his main threats on the comeback trail.

Federer's triumph over old rival Rafael Nadal in the final of last year's tournament, which came after a six-month injury lay-off, was his first in a major tournament for five years.

Federer, who next faces German Jan-Lennard Struff, said: "I was thinking back a lot about what happened past year so walking out here again is an wonderful feeling and hopefully I can keep that going for a little bit longer". "I know that it's going to take a little bit of time for me to work my way in and get used to the changes that I've made in my service motion".

"I played flawless tennis in the first couple of sets and Donald came back in the third set". "I can't control it all and a year ago was a fairytale".

The ninth-seeded Swiss Stan Wawrinka, who underwent knee surgery previous year and also missed six months of action, battled through the pain to put out Lithuania's Ricardas Berankis 6-3, 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (7-2).

"At the end, I realised he is still actually there".

For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.

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