Roger Federer produces straight-sets masterclass against Taylor Fritz as Swiss ace takes step closer to defending his title in his 100th Australian Open match
- Roger Federer eased aside 21-year-old American star Taylor Fritz 6-2, 7-5, 6-2
- The former world No 1 produced a stunningly clinical first set in just 20 minutes
- Next up for the defending champion is highly-rated Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas
- Federer urged patience from fans wanting younger players to win Grand Slams
Roger Federer’s bid to retain his Australian Open crown showed no signs of derailing under the roof of the Rod Laver Arena as he produced a masterclass for American ace Taylor Fritz.
The Swiss star, who beat Marin Cilic to take the title 12 months ago in Melbourne, kept up his run so far this year of not dropping a single set as he beat Fritz 6-2, 7-5, 6-2 in 88 minutes.
At 21, Fritz is still on a steep incline both in terms of the rankings and also in his all-round game.
Roger Federer made light work of Taylor Fritz with a straight sets win at the Australian Open
Fritz fought valiantly but was given a valuable lesson by an in-form Federer in Melbourne
The Swiss was full of praise for the young star and urged patience from fans as they develop
But as dominant as the score-line reads and the performance proved to be, the American will be better for it by the time the next Grand Slam rolls around in May in Paris.
Federer is now 37 and while he continues to defy time with his performances, he knows the new generation including Fritz are getting closer and closer to knocking him off his perch.
‘They are doing great! What do you want me to tell you?’ he laughed when speaking to Eurosport following his win.
The Swiss ace came out the blocks at lightning speed, taking 20 minutes to win the first set
‘We want them to win all the big stuff but it just takes time. Novak (Djokovic) is not giving up, Rafa (Nadal) is protecting the clay and I am still giving them a hard time.
‘They are knocking on the big stage and the big breakthrough for me was in 2002 and that was what I needed to feel like I can be the best and play with the best. They are a different generation.’
Federer needed just 20 minutes to win the first set, breaching the serve of his opponent sooner than he may have anticipated.
Fritz simply could not handle the ferocity of Federer’s forehand returns in the early stages.
Rain delays are few and far between at the Australian Open, with temperatures regularly soaring from the first game until the last each day.
But in the second set Fritz battled and dug in before a late break on his serve cost him dearly
But consistent showers caused havoc for organisers during the day session with games on the outside courts brought to a halt, leading to a decision to close the roof on the Rod Laver Arena.
The conditions are said to be heavier and while that troubled both Ashleigh Barty and Maria Sakkari who were on court first, Federer has plenty of experiences to lean on as he showed no signs of discomfort.
Fritz, who will no doubt have studied Federer’s last match in the tournament – a tough encounter against returning Briton Dan Evans – and the second set proved a much more competitive affair, eventually losing to a late break of serve 7-5.
But the American’s resistance was to be short-lived. Federer quickly wrangled back control, as he has so many times through the years, and wrapped up a 6-2 final set comfortably take a step closer to the final.
Federer is making his way through some of the game’s finest young players who he praised
His box rarely showed any signs of nerves and one of his four-year-old twins, Lenny, even made an appearance to watch his dad in action.
‘I did not know he would come to the stadium!’ Federer added. ‘When I peeked over and saw him I thought “OK a special guest for me” – to play in front of legends is such a thrill but in the end it comes down to family and I was happy Lenny was there.’
Tennis is beginning to see a breakthrough of highly-rated young talents, Fritz certainly part of that group, but Federer’s serene quality is further proof that the current top trio of himself, Nadal and Djokovic will not be dethroned with ease as he alluded to.
Next up for the Swiss is 20-year-old Greek phenomenon Stefanos Tsitsipas after he came through a thrilling four-set match against Nikoloz Basilashvili on the Margaret Court Arena.
There was plenty of Switzerland supporters inside the Rod Laver Arena with Federer in action