By Randy Walker
Roger Federer easily steered his way out of the first round of the 2013 Australian Open, but now faces about as tough a road as possible if he is to navigate himself to a fifth Australian Open title and 18th career major single title.
While Nikolay Davydenko of Russia has seen his better days on tour – reaching a high of No. 3 and winning 21 career titles – he is now ranked No. 40 and faces Federer in the second round. He has beaten Federer two times –against Federer’s 17 wins – but playing someone who has ranked as high as No. 3 in the world is not an easy second-round opponent for the Swiss, especially against someone who has defeated you more than once in the past.
In the third round, Federer could face brash Australian upstart Bernard Tomic, the cocky 20-year-old, who recently won his first career ATP singles title in Sydney last week and ranked No. 43. When asked to comment on a potential third-round match with Federer he responded “if he gets that far.” With comments from like against Federer, perhaps the most popular and liked tennis player in the history of the sport, it would be safe to say that a majority of people in the tennis world would be gladly rooting for a rout of the arrogant Aussie. The two played in the Australian Open fourth round last year, Federer winning easily 6-4, 6-2, 6-2.
Could the dangerous Canadian Milos Raonic be the player to end the incredible Federer streak of 34 consecutive appearances in the quarterfinals of a major? The 6-foot 5 inch 22-year-old, Federer’s potential round of 16 opponent, has been only points away from beating Federer in their previous three matches: 6-7(4), 6-4, 7-6(3) in Halle on grass last June, 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 (4) on the blue clay of Madrid last May and 6-7 (4), 6-2, 6-4 at Indian Wells last March. He has been knocking at the door at taking out the mighty Federer. Will the door be opened in Melbourne?
In the quarterfinals, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France could await. He is one of the few men in the field who has experience beating Federer at a major tournament when he turned the trick on Federer’s favorite court of all places, Centre Court at the All England Club, in the Wimbledon quarterfinals in 2011.
Should Federer reach the semifinals – in the draw’s unfortunate “draw of the straws” – he would potentially face No. 3 seed Andy Murray. The 2012 US Open and Olympic champion is on the ascent, his confidence swelling since breaking through and winning his first major title at the US Open and his enormous achievement of winning Olympic gold in his home country, drubbing Federer 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 in the final. Murray holds a rare winning head-to-head record against Federer at 10-9 and is the only player in the 2013 with a career winning record against the 17-time major champion.
To boot, based on the way the men’s draw has been scheduled, the potential Federer vs. Murray semifinal would take place on the second Friday of the tournament and, should Federer defeat Murray to reach the final, he would have 24 hours less rest than his opponent in the final, potentially No. 1 seed Djokovic, whose half of the draw would play their semifinal match on Thursday.
To read more about the life and career of Federer, pick up a copy of the book ROGER FEDERER: QUEST FOR PERFECTION by Rene Stauffer at www.RogerFedererBook.com