By Randy Walker
“Respect your elders,” is what Roger Federer said to Australia’s Bernard Tomic Saturday night at Rod Laver Arena.
The 17-time major singles champion said these words not with his mouth, but with his racquet, straight-setting the brash 20-year-old 6-4, 7-6 (5), 6-1 in a highly-anticipated third-round match at the Australian Open.
Federer, 31, does most of his talking with his racquet, which is the only true form of communication in highest levels of professional tennis. Tomic spoke brazenly of it being his time to beat Federer leading into the hyped third-round meeting, even suggesting when the draw came out that the player many regard as the greatest ever may not even reach a third-round match with him.
However, despite the straight-set score, Tomic competed with fire and vigor and displayed signs of his talent that many have touted will lift him to a top 10 ranking at some point in the future.
He lead 4-1 and 5-3 in the second-set tie-breaker, but was unable to close, falling victim to a series of brilliant Federer shots. After Federer won the last four points of the second-set tie-breaker to take the two-sets-to-love lead, the air went out of the Tomic balloon as Federer easily won the third set to close out the victory.
Federer set the tone early in the match, breaking the No. 43rd-ranked Tomic’s serve in the opening game of the match, the first time the young Aussie had lost his serve in the tournament and the first time he has lost his serve in 76 previous service games dating back Tomic winning the Sydney International title the previous week.
The win was also a milestone for the No. 2 ranked Federer, marking his 250th career singles victory at a major tournament, extending yet another record in his unmatched career.
Next for Federer in the fourth round is 6 foot, 5-inch Milos Raonic, who will be looking to prevent Federer from reaching his 35th consecutive quarterfinal at a major event, also a men’s record. Raonic 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. This will be the first time they will meet in a best-of-five set match.
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