Roger Federer was in imperious form as he beat rising star Milos Raonic in straight sets to book a place in his 35th consecutive grand slam Quarter-Final, where he will face the charismatic Frenchman, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
It was a match that Federer controlled from start to finish, winning 6-4, 7-6 (7-4), 6-2. He consistently outplayed the big-serving world number 15 from the back of the court, whilst being extremely impressive on serve. He managed to cope with well with Raonic’s huge serve, and after the match explained his approach in dealing with it: “You try to anticipate a bit, and it happened better and better as the match went on.” The 17 time grand slam champion then went on to stress the importance of keeping concentration and patience when up against a player like Raonic: “It’s important to stay focused. I have learned that over the years, and it pays off in the end.”
In the opening set Federer only made one unforced error, but such was the quality of Raonic’s serving, the first set was tied up at 4-4, before a double fault gave Federer the opportunity he needed to clinch the set.
It was plain to see that when Federer could return the Raonic serve, then he was the one who would win the majority of baseline rallies. He was able to outmanoeuvre and generally outclass the Canadian around the court. This was extremely apparent when considering that Federer only made four unforced errors in the first two sets, and cruised through his service games with consummate ease.
The second set continued in the same fashion of the first; with Raonic’s impressive serve enabling him to hang onto Federer, yet he was unable make any inroads into the Federer service games. The Swiss legend won a remarkable 91% of points on his first serve during the set, and held four service games to love.
Yet, Raonic maintained his focus on serve to send it to a tie break, but Federer was quick to quash any potential threat. At 3-3 in the tiebreak he made the breakthrough with a backhand passing shot, and eventually sealed the set with another glorious passing shot, this time on the forehand side. It was met with a roar of approval from Federer as he took the tie-break 7-4.
This setback seemed to break Raonic’s resolve and in the opening game of the third set, he made as many unforced errors as Federer had made in the whole match. He consequently lost his service game and as one Australian commentator astutely pointed out, “Raonic was over-doing it and Federer was doing him over.”
From there, Federer raced through the final set, wrapping things up in 1 hour and 53 minutes. He will now face seventh seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the Quarter-Finals, who earlier beat countryman Richard Gasquet in four sets.
There have been hints this year that the courts at Melbourne may be faster than usual, and that will be music to the ears of the Swiss star. His playing style is particularly well suited for quicker courts, exemplified by his great success on the grass courts of Wimbledon. Everything is going according to plan so far for the world number no. 2; he hasn’t put a foot wrong, and has not had to deal with any energy sapping encounters like that of Novak Djokovic’s five set marathon win over Federer’s compatriot, Stanislas Wawinka. He stressed the importance of trying to conserve as much energy as possible, stating after the match: “you try to win every match as quick as you can.”
If he can see off the challenge of Tsonga then a potential clash with Andy Murray beckons if the Scot can beat another Frenchman, the unseeded Jeremy Chardy.