Roger Federer Is Man to Beat in Men's Australian Open Round of 16

Mike HoagCorrespondent IIJanuary 20, 2013

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 19:  Roger Federer of Switzerland plays a backhand in his third round match against Bernard Tomic of Australia during day six of the 2013 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 19, 2013 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Alert the press. Something wild and unprecedented has happened at the 2013 Australian Open. Tennis great Roger Federer has found himself in the Round of 16 of yet another Grand Slam.

FedEx easily dispatched Bernard Tomic, his Australian third-round opponent, in straight sets to keep his hope for an 18th title alive.

The competition has to get tougher sooner or later, right? Not in the fourth round it won’t, at least.

Federer has never lost to Milos Raonic in three head-to-head matches. All three of them came in ATP competition in 2012.

Raonic has played him tough, though, winning the first set in each of those three losses and forcing a final-set tiebreak at the 2012 Mutua Madrid Open.

But that’s beside the point. Raonic is just a stepping stone for Federer to reach the final round for a potential showdown with Andy Murray or Novak Djokovic.

It has gotten to the point that it’s expected. Anything less than perfection is a big disappointment for the 17-time Grand Slam winner.

Djokovic may have had massive success at Melbourne Park in recent years, but is he ready to take on a rested Federer who is at the top of his game?

Federer, playing the way he is right now, shouldn’t be taken lightly and won’t be by his peers. They know that he is the man to beat in the final field.

"When you play these sort of players like Roger or Novak [Djokovic], you lose belief before you get into the match,'' Tomic said following his third-round loss to Federer, according to ESPN’s Bonnie Ford.

Losing belief means you are already defeated, and that’s not a way to knock off one of the greatest players to have ever played the game.

Tomic, 20, also admitted to “tiring” down the stretch against his older but imposing opponent, according to Ford.

A 20-something tiring against a 31-year-old after three rounds of tennis?

Federer is clearly rested and is using his game to dictate the pace of his matches.

Everyone has been talking about Djokovic’s chances at three-peating, but Federer is the one who is having an easier time of it, especially after Djokovic's five-set marathon with Stanislas Wawrinka.