Despite an aggressive Bernard Tomic coming so close to claiming the second set, the indomitable Roger Federer inevitably prevailed in straight sets 6-4 7-6(7-5) 6-1.
After a promising start to the 2013 tennis season, Tomic having exhibited a vigorously strong serve and seriously improved fitness levels during his Grand Slam lead-up tournaments, the prominent young Australian was set to give the world No. 2 a run for his money.
From the get-go, it became overwhelmingly apparent that Tomic would no longer be able to rely solely on his serve to carry him through his service games as Federer seemed too capable of returning even some of the 20-year-old’s best serves.
A jittery start from Tomic, no doubt with the nerves still at play, sent Federer to establish the early break.
Federer pounded down the wide serves, opening the court up for the forehand winner; a strategy which may have aided in beginning to tire his opponent from early on in the match.
While Tomic’s agile performance at the net was solid throughout much of the match, he often faltered just at the last moment, providing Federer with the all too precious point.
The Australian did well to read Federer’s play, adjusting his game as the world No. 2 is well known for concealing his intended line of direction for the ball.
At the critical set point at 5-3 40-30 on Tomic’s serve, Federer’s racquet found the net levelling the score to deuce.
Federer secured the set point advantage which was quickly protected by a drop shot volley from Tomic which just clipped the edge of the white tape, falling short of Federer’s outstretched racquet.
Fighting back to secure a break point, Tomic misjudged the lob, sending the ball long of the baseline. At last seeming to find some of his usual rhythm, Tomic retaliated to hold serve 4-5.
Having gained the early break, Federer comfortably served for the set 5-4, closing it out 6-4.
Federer continued to dictate play into the second set, establishing break point in Tomic’s first service for the set, however, clever shot placement pushing Federer wide saw him to level the score to deuce and eventually hold after being down 30-40.
The 20-year-old’s next service similarly progressed to a break point at 40-30, but a long shot by Federer followed by an ace and a killer drop shot allowed him to seal the game and again maintain the hold.
The second set saw a distinct improvement in Tomic’s ability to read play and he generated more consistent angled shots, opening up the court for the forehand winner.
The Australian managed to bolt to an admirable 40-0 in his following service game, his confidence levels clearly heightened as he went on to produce a rocketing ace to secure another hold.
At 4-4 15-40, Federer possessing two break points, at least one was saved by a deep forehand winner down the line from a resilient Tomic.
Saving the next to level the score to the all too familiar deuce, the two men battled it out through five deuces. After defending two break points, Tomic launched one of his signature powerful serves to finally ensure another deserving service was held.
With the knowledge that he was capable of posing such a strong, commendable resistance from being down 15-40 in the last game, a courageous Tomic would have surely sensed the possibility of clinching a break from the world No. 2.
Federer’s service however proved too strong for the young Australian as the set eventuated into a tie-break.
Uncommon mishits from Federer at integral moments saw Tomic to an optimistic lead of 2-0.
Enabling his sense of self-belief to empower him, he established an early break to shoot ahead to 4-1.
The world No. 2 broke back at 4-5 and went on to claim set point at 6-5. Tomic’s ball gaining too much height of the net and chipping, defensive play led to the Swiss taking the second set 7-6(7-5)
Not all hope was lost as Tomic has been known in the past to come back from being 2-0 down as in his memorable clash with Verdasco during the first round of the Australian Open last year.
Tomic continued to place much pressure on Federer’s serve, levelling many of his service games to deuce, however, the superior shot placement exhibited by the Swiss tennis star enabled him to largely dictate play on the whole.
Tomic’s once again was faced with a struggle to hold service, the men taking many points into exciting rallies, mixing up play with deep power hitting and drop shot volleys, but Federer proved the stronger force, gaining two breaks and ultimately clinch the match and progress into the fourth round.
Still at the young age of 20, Bernard Tomic will surely be a force to be reckoned with in the future as his game continues to improve on tour.
This AO third round victory has led to Roger Federer holding the record for number of Grand Slam matches won; an astounding 250 matches.
Originally published at The SportingJournal.