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Federer bracing for Berdych backlash

One would have to think Tomas Berdych would be very much up for his latest Australian Open stoush with Roger Federer.

If four previous Open defeats at the hands of Federer haven’t fuelled Berdych with sufficient motivation for Wednesday night’s quarter-final, then surely a subtle sledge from the great Swiss will have. Federer often credits his third-round rout of the big Czech last year for giving him the belief his tennis was back to the necessary level to challenge for grand slam spoils again after six months out nursing a knee injury.

Until the 6-2 6-4 6-4 romp, Federer wasn’t convinced he was ready to contend.

But, fearing backlash from Berdych, the defending champion had to check himself after referring to the mauling in an on-court interview after his fourth-round win over Marton Fucsovics on Sunday.

“We had a good match here. Well, I had a good match against him in the third round last year,” Federer said.

“I’m sure he wants to do it the other way around and make me pay for that one.”

Last year’s victory was not only Federer’s eighth over Berdych at the majors, but also his 18th anywhere, and he followed up with a 19th en route to a 19th grand slam triumph at Wimbledon.

Still, Berdych is no mug and has enjoyed success against Federer too.

He’s beaten the former world No.1 six times, including in Wimbledon and US Open quarter-finals and retains belief. “I’m definitely going to go out there, try my best, try to play good tennis and believe myself that I can do it,” said Berdych, who will be contesting his 17th grand slam quarter-final, and seventh at Melbourne Park.

“I did it in the past, and also I did it in the slams, so I know how it is to beat him for the best-of-five sets.

“But obviously it’s an extremely tough opponent.

“I’ve just to go out there and swing some balls.

“We know each other for quite a long time. We’ve been meeting each other almost every single week since 2004.”

Berdych had a back issue at last year’s Open and says being back to full health will greatly improve his prospects of stopping the mighty Swiss.

Federer will be lining up for his his 52nd grand slam quarter-final, with the winner to meet either Korean Hyeon Chung or unseeded American Tennys Sandgren on Friday night for a spot in the title decider.

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