MELBOURNE, Australia – Roger Federer flicked a switch after losing the opening set to crush Marton Fucsovics and book a record 15th Australian Open quarterfinal on Sunday, January 26.
The Swiss master took time to work out the Hungarian, but when he did, it was one-way traffic en route to a 4-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 win at the Rod Laver Arena to edge closer to a 21st Grand Slam crown.
Awaiting Federer, seeking a seventh Australian Open title, in the last 8 on Tuesday, January 28, is the 100th-ranked Tennys Sandgren, who upset 12th-seeded Italian Fabio Fognini over 4 intense sets.
“It was a tough start, Marton played very clean,” said Federer, who surpassed John Newcombe for most Australian Open quarterfinal appearances.
It will be also be his 57th appearance in the last 8 at the Grand Slams. No one else is close, with Novak Djokovic next in line with 46.
“It just took me some time, I tried to mix it up a bit and just had to figure it out. From the beginning of the 2nd set it got a little bit easier,” he added.
Sandgren, a devout Christian, achieved his best Grand Slam result at Melbourne Park by reaching the last 8 in 2018, but it was overshadowed by a row over his political views and links to right-wing activists.
He has put the controversy behind him and shown battling qualities to make the last 8 again and said he was relishing the chance to play an all-time great.
“It will be very special, very special. To play him on a big stage like quarters of a Slam would be a ton of fun really,” he said.
The pair have never met before, as Federer noted: “I’ve played a lot of tennis in my life but never against Tennys.”
The ageless Federer was pushed to a gruelling 5 sets by John Millman in the third round, but showed no signs of tiredness against Fucsovics despite being 38.
Both players took time to feel each other out and it went with serve to 3-3 before the Hungarian grabbed the first break on the back of some high quality service returns.
The unheralded 27-year-old, ranked 67, looked composed, with his power and aggressive forehand unsettling Federer and he held his nerve to grab the set – the first he had ever taken off the Swiss.
Undaunted, Federer kept his cool, started to find Fucsovic’s weaknesses, and dictated the points, earning a break to go 2-0 ahead in the 2nd set.
He did not let up as the Hungarian struggled to stay in touch, broken again as the tide turned and normal business resumed for the Swiss great.
Fucsovics, who was attempting to become the first player from his country to make the Melbourne quarters, was shellshocked as Federer turned on the style.
He raced to a double break lead in the 3rd set with some brilliant passing shots and there was no way back for a player who came into the match in decent form, winning his 3 previous matches without dropping a set.
Federer, who could face Djokovic in the semifinals if he gets past Sandgren, wrapped it up in two hours and 11 minutes, almost two hours less than his third-round epic against Millman. – Rappler.com