Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Roger Federer fights off a challenge to move into 3rd round at Aussie Open

Roger Federer might have preferred a quicker or a tidier second-round showing in Melbourne, but the two-time defending champion will take a ticket to the third round however it comes.

Federer fought off Brit Dan Evans, who was ready for the occasion, 7-6(5), 7-6(3), 6-3 to stay perfect in Australian Open second-rounders (20-0).

The 37-year-old did more than continue to ease his way into the season's first Grand Slam. Federer more than tripled his winner to unforced error tally (56 to 17) and took the match to Evans, winning 74 per cent of his net points (45/61).

"I think [Evans] is a good player," said Federer. "I've seen him play some really good matches over the years. I see why he can cause difficulties to players. He's got a nice slice [and he is] defending the court well. He has the variation, which is always a hard thing to play against. He was feeling it today... I liked the match. I thought he was playing well. It was enjoyable."

But credit Evans, who also played an attacking brand of tennis and had chances to put a real scare into the 20-time Grand Slam champion. The 28-year-old mixed in his honed backhand slice with his heavy forehand and had the first set on his racquet, serving at 5/4 in the tie-break.

But two errant forehand volleys, including one to an open court, gave Federer a set point on his racquet, an opportunity the third seed did not pass up.

The Swiss similarly pulled away in the second set, and a single break of serve pushed him ahead in the third.

Federer will next meet American Taylor Fritz for a place in the fourth round. Fritz, who works with Federer's former coach Paul Annacone, battled past Gael Monfils 6-3, 6-7(8), 7-6(6), 7-6(5). The 21-year-old saved 12 of 13 break points throughout the second-round clash to defeat the 30th seed in three hours and 24 minutes.

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