17-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer was given a surprisingly stiff challenge in his first professional match-up of 2015, but managed to claw his way out of danger to set up a quarter-final clash with another Australian in James Duckworth. This is the second time that the two competitors cross paths on the tour, with Federer leading the series 1-0 with a victory t last year’s Australian Open.
In less than an hour of professional competition in the New Year, Roger Federer found himself down a set and a break to a player ranked outside the Top 150 in the ATP World Tour. After saving three set points in the opening frame, Federer quickly found himself down 6-4, 3-1 and facing an unrelenting opponent. He eventually fought back to defeat John Millman 4-6, 6-4, 6-3.
“I thought I got quite lucky,” said Federer on-court. “He was playing great tennis until maybe the last couple of games. I had to fight very hard. Credit to him for pushing me to the edge.
“I didn’t play badly, but maybe felt a bit tired at times. The first match of the season you never know quite what to expect. I am sweating like crazy. I am happy we had a good match and I got through in the end.”
Federer is now just four matches away from reaching 1,000 victories on the professional tour. Only Jimmy Connors and Ivan Lendl hold that honour. His next contest is against James Duckworth, who saved two match points against Jarkko Nieminen to win 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-3 in two hours and three minutes.
“I just wanted to really to focus on holding my serve and then putting pressure on his serve, looking to be aggressive and try and dictate. I think I did that quite well in the game that I broke at 1-0 in the third.”
This marks just the second time that these two competitors will cross paths on the professional tour, with Federer leading the series 1-0. Their last meeting took place at the Australian Open, which Federer won in straight sets. Given his ability to work his way out of danger on Thursday, the Swiss star is unlikely to face more more difficulty against Duckworth.
Prediction: Roger Federer in Straight Sets