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Federer cruises into last eight

  • Alix Ramsay
  • Ben Solomon

No matter what the weather, no matter what the time, nothing can ruffle Roger Federer’s feathers. Marton Fucsovics tried – oh, how he tried – but the good ship Federer sailed serenely on to the quarterfinals 6-4 7-6(3) 6-2. As a result, he was a very jolly Roger.

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“I thought he played very well,” Fed said. “In tough conditions, you have to have quick ideas and execute very well and I think he did that well. It’s not easy being down two sets to none, and he started making some mistakes eventually. But I thought he was playing really clean, solid, bit of everything: serving, volleying, chipping – it was nice to see.

“I had a hard time really breaking through until I was two sets to love and a break. That’s when I really started to feel, OK now I’ve got the wind behind my back. I can cruise to victory. But until then it was tough.”
Fucsovics has had plenty to celebrate of late. For a start, he got engaged during the off-season (he popped the question to the future Mrs Fucsovics while on holiday in the Maldives). Then there was the fact that he was in the fourth round – he had never won three consecutive matches on the main tour in his life before. Things were going well.

Then there was his second round win over world No.13 Sam Querrey. That was the best win of his career. He had never beaten such a highly ranked player before and he had done it in the 39°C heat. Better still, all of this had been achieved on his Australian Open debut. The nearest he came to the main draw last year was losing in the first round of qualifying event to Bradley Mousley who, with all due respect to Mr Mousley, is barely a household name in his own household.
Yes, there was plenty to celebrate all right. And his reward for all this endeavour? A ticket to a fourth-round pasting from Roger Federer. Somehow, it did not seem fair.

Rodge is not fussy when he plays but he does like routine. If he starts playing at night, he wants to keep playing at night. What he does not want is a late night followed by an early morning and even if 3pm does not sound particularly early, it was more than early enough for a 36-year-old who was used to getting bed in the early hours after a hard night’s work.
“I just set the alarm at a different time,” Federer said. “Just try to get to bed at some stage because playing at night, going to bed at 3am, is a different rhythm to playing in the daytime and that’s always the tricky part.”

Perhaps that was why Fed did not look quite the unstoppable, untouchable, unbelievable maestro we have become used to. He was still very, very good, mind you. Far too good for Fucsovics, that was for sure, but if he wanted to split hairs, there were a few things that could be worked on, a tweak here or there.
There were those 28 unforced errors. Tsk, tsk. There were the seven break points he let dribble off his racquet strings. Tut, tut. But in between there was the usual Roger magic and there was no way Fucsovics was going to stop the champion getting through to the last eight and an appointment with Tomas Berdych.