Swiss reaches third round in Melbourne for 21st time

Roger Federer improved to 41-0 in the first two rounds of the Australian Open on Wednesday night, moving past Filip Krajinovic 6-1, 6-4, 6-1 at Rod Laver Arena.

The six-time champion started and finished with a flourish to extend his unbeaten ATP Head2Head record against Krajinovic to four matches. Federer ripped 42 winners to break serve seven times throughout the one-hour, 32-minute encounter.

“I am very happy. It is a great start to the season so far,” said Federer. “I am feeling really relaxed out on the court. I trained hard and you hope it pays off and not that it was all for nothing this week. I am happy, I am still going and I am looking forward to the next one.”

Federer is now just one win away from winning his 100th match at the Australian Open. The Swiss, who owns a 99-14 record at Melbourne Park, is the only man to win 100 matches at a Grand Slam event. Federer owns a record 101 wins at Wimbledon.

Federer will need to beat Australian John Millman to reach that mark at the year’s opening major championship. Millman, who beat Federer in four sets at the 2018 US Open, defeated 31st seed Hubert Hurkacz 6-4, 7-5, 6-3 in two hours and 28 minutes. Federer leads Millman 2-1 in their ATP Head2Head series.

”[Millman] is a great guy. I practised a lot with him and I almost passed out when I played against him in New York,” said Federer. “It was so hot. He had no problem, he’s from Queensland… He never came to check on me [to see] if I passed out after that match but I didn’t, I’m here.

“I played him two other times, once in Brisbane and I almost lost that one too. The other time was in Halle last year. He is super good guy, unbelievably tough opponent. There are not many fitter guys than him out there and those are the guys I respect the most, actually. He gets absolutely the most out of the game and I hope it is going to be a great match with some great rallies.”

Federer is aiming to equal Novak Djokovic’s record of seven Australian Open titles this year. The 38-year-old captured his sixth trophy at this event in 2018, beating Marin Cilic in five sets to add a 20th crown to his record Grand Slam titles haul. Rafael Nadal can equal that total at this event if he wins his second Australian Open title.

It was a rapid start from Federer, who stood on top of the baseline and ripped backhand winners to establish a 2-0 lead. The third seed soon opened the court and ripped his forehand to double his advantage, before taking the opener after 20 minutes. The third seed closed out the first set with a love service hold as Krajinovic netted a backhand return.

The second set proved more competitive as Krajinovic fought back from a break down, flattening his backhand and rushing Federer into errors with deep returns to reach 4-4. But the Serbian committed two errors at the net in the following game to gift Federer the opportunity to serve for a two-set lead. Federer held serve to 15, as Krajinovic failed to return a powerful serve down the T.

”I saw that [Krajinovic had made 90 per cent of first serves in the first two sets]. I was looking at the stats and I was aware. I am aware of a lot of things… It was a very high first-serve percentage, extremely high, to get only a handful of second serves throughout two sets is rare.”

Federer cruised to victory from that point, winning 13 of 15 second-serve return points to secure three service breaks. The 20-time Grand Slam champion, who dropped just one point behind his first serve (10/11) in the final set, clinched the win with a powerful cross court forehand winner.

Krajinovic was aiming to equal his best Grand Slam result by reaching the third round in Melbourne for the second straight year. The Serbian also reached the third round at Roland Garros last year.