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Tomic's Run Ends at the Hands of Inspired Federer

By Chris Oddo

Federer, round three, 2013 Australian Open (January 19, 2013) -- In a spirited tussle that highlighted the immense talents of Australia's most promising player, Roger Federer defeated Bernard Tomic 6-4, 7-5(5), 6-1 for his 250th career Grand Slam win on Saturday night in Melbourne.

The victory extends Federer's streak of round of 16 appearances at Grand Slams to 35, and marks Federer's 13th victory against players born in the 1990's without a loss.

It was a match full of jaw-dropping rallies that pitted a tennis superpower still very much at the height of his powers against a blossoming talent who has improved dramatically from last season. "It's his third or fourth year on tour already, so he's learned a lot," said Federer of the 20-year-old. "But overall I just think he's a better player, more mature."

Perhaps the most improved element of Tomic's game, his serve, let him down early on Saturday night. After 76 consecutive holds dating back to his first career title a week ago in Sydney, Tomic was broken in the first game of the match.

“That’s not a good thing to do against him, to lose your first game,” Tomic told reporters afterwards. The break would turn out to be all Federer would need to secure the first set.

A facet of the game that Tomic hasn't quite mastered yet, the return of serve, would hinder the Aussie's chances for pulling a shocking upset throughout the night. Tomic managed only one break point in the match, and he gained little ground against Federer's first serve, winning only eight points against it on the evening.

But his return shortcomings didn’t keep Tomic from mounting an eye-opening charge in the second set.

Thanks to an aggressive mindset and some unequivocally dazzling shotmaking, Tomic hit his stride, and for long, entertaining spells the tennis that he and Federer produced was transcendent. Tomic aggressively rode his hot hand in the set, cracking 21 winners and saving six break points against Federer, including three in the ninth game that helped him force a tiebreaker.

But in the tiebreak, Tomic would once again be outdone by Federer. After Tomic jumped out to a 4-1 lead, Federer roared back, winning a rapid-fire, 29-shot rally to reclaim the mini-break three points later, then pushing past Tomic to claim the set.

"I had a chance there and I missed it," Tomic would later lament. "Would have been different up 6-2 or 6-3 in the tiebreak. It would have been huge."

The loss of the second set would prove to be too much for Tomic, and he fell easily in the third, surrendering two breaks and going quietly as fastidious Federer kept up his onslaught until the final winner was struck.

"I felt a little tired in the third," said Tomic, who was clearly off a tick emotionally down the stretch. "He got the better of me."

Federer, bidding for a fifth Australian Open title in Melbourne, was impressed with Tomic’s game despite the third-set fizzle, saying “I had to bring the whole repertoire to the court today, defense and offense.”

Federer’s victory sets up a 4th-round clash with Milos Raonic. The Canadian defeated Philipp Kohlschreiber in straight sets to reach the round of 16 in Melbourne for the second time in three years.

In other third-round action, Frenchman Jeremy Chardy pulled the biggest upset of the day when he defeated sixth-seeded Juan Martin del Potro, 6-3, 6-3, 6-7(3), 3-6, 6-3. Chardy broke Del Potro in the penultimate game of the fifth set, then served out the victory in three hours and forty-five minutes.

The Frenchman will play Andreas Seppi in the round of 16 in a battle of players who’ve never reached a Grand Slam quarterfinal.

Andy Murray also gained safe passage into the round of 16 with a 6-3, 6-4, 7-5 victory over Ricardis Berankis of Lithuania, while Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Richard Gasquet set up an all-French fourth-round match with victories over Blaz Kavkic and Ivan Dodig, respectively.

(Photo Credit: Mark Peterson/Corleve)


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