Roger Federer disposed of Bernard Tomic on Saturday, and he'll cross another young star off his hit list when he faces Milos Raonic in the fourth round of the Australian Open.
The legendary Federer put on a clinic against Tomic, eliminating the 20-year-old Australian in straight sets. Tomic's power and energy kept him in the match early, but he tired down the stretch, and Federer eventually prevailed 6-4, 7-6 (7-5), 6-1.
I'm expecting a similar result in the fourth round. Despite playing another tall-and-talented young player, the 31-year-old Federer will advance to the quarterfinals.
He has won all three of his previous meetings with Raonic, who is the 13th seed in Melbourne. Each meeting came in 2012, and Federer recovered to win all three after losing the first set.
Although the 22-year-old Canadian has youthful legs, Federer has a few undeniable advantages. His placement is far superior, his serve has been dominant and he has already proven he can wear down younger opponents.
He also has a big mental edge over young players, as Tomic said after their match (h/t Bonnie Ford, ESPN).
When you play these sort of players like Roger or Novak [Djokovic], you lose belief before you get into the match. I got in there; I started to think after they mentioned all these Grand Slams leading up, Wimbledon champion six times, six times U.S. Open champion. Then I was, 'Oh, crap, it's Roger.' I try to block out who's on the other side of the net but couldn't quite do it after that announcement.
As the greatest tennis player of all time, Federer carries an intimidating aura. Combined with his physical skills, that edge in confidence gives Federer a major boost.
Raonic is an excellent player, and his time will eventually come. He's just not quite ready to dethrone the king.
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