Roger Federer picked up the easiest Australian Open victory of his career this week. Moments before taking the court for his second-round match in Melbourne, Federer found out that opponent Andreas Beck was crippled by a back injury and forced to withdraw.
His third-round match is exceedingly more difficult. Federer faces Ivo Karlovic, a 6’10” Croatian with the fastest serve in tennis. Here are three things Federer must do to conquer Karlovic and the rest of the field.
Federer is 30 years old. He has won the Australian Open four times before, most recently in 2010. While his mental edge strengthens with age, his conditioning already reached its plateau. Federer must play smart and avoid any nagging injury that could hinder his performance in later rounds. He cannot end up like his second-round opponent if he hopes to win the tournament.
Avoid the Aces
In addition to Karlovic, there are plenty of tough serves left for Federer to handle in the Australian Open. John Isner, another tall player with a booming serve that frustrates Federer, looms in a different bracket. Returning champ Novak Djokovic is serving the ball staggeringly well. Rafael Nadal is his ever-present foil with a strong first strike. Federer must consistently return the ball to avoid an early exit.
Control the Tempo
No tennis player in history is more dangerous in long rallies than Roger Federer. He has so many different shots that it is impossible to predict where he will put the ball. If Federer can dictate the matches with his serve and make his opponents chase after shots, he will win his 17th Grand Slam Title.