Federer plays the lovable villain against Tomic
Roger Federer brutally disposed of home favourite Bernard Tomic to reach the Australian Open quarter-finals, but he did so in such a manner that even the natives struggled to loathe the exceptional Swiss.
Federer, bidding for a 17th grand slam title and his fifth in Melbourne, was irresistible in Sunday's encounter, calling on just about every shot in his armoury to outclass his talented 19-year-old opponent. A scoreline of 6-4 6-2 6-2 was more a reflection of Federer's brilliance than Tomic's shortcomings, and those in attendance at the Rod Laver Arena felt compelled to acknowledge the former world No. 1.
The year of 2011 saw Federer fail to win any of the grand slams, a drought unheard of for the Swiss since 2003. However, belief among players and experts alike on the ATP Tour is that the 30-year-old is now in much better shape, and certainly he made Tomic's relative inexperience show.
The opening set was as close as things got for the entire contest. Federer, as is his custom, took time to settle into his effortless rhythm, while Tomic drew inspiration from the home crowd to match his rival blow-for-blow.
However, as the set moved towards a tiebreaker, Federer found the only break and that was enough to give him an advantage that he never looked like relinquishing.
Tomic is comfortable off either wing at such a young age, so Federer's key weapon often was a drop shot to bring his man forward. That created openings, and the veteran exploited them with clinical backhand and forehand winners to break three times in the second set. Tomic, to his credit, managed to penetrate the Federer serve once, but he could not gain control at any stage in the match.
The Melbourne crowd hoped for a dramatic comeback, but Federer was giving their man nothing, allowing Tomic to hit only 13 winners across all three sets. A dismissive backhand winner down the line handed Federer an early break in the third set, which he added to in order to move to 5-1. Tomic forced his man to serve for the match, which Federer managed to love to complete an impressive day's work.
Federer is now set for a highly intriguing quarter-final against Juan Martin Del Potro, who secured his passage to the next round with a 6-4 6-2 6-1 triumph over Philipp Kohlschreiber. The Argentine was near flawless in his performance, hitting just 12 unforced errors while winning 80 per cent of points on first serves in play.