Roger Federer: Biggest Keys for Fed Moving Forward at 2013 Australian Open

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Roger Federer: Biggest Keys for Fed Moving Forward at 2013 Australian Open
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Roger Federer is picking up steam in a hurry, claiming straight-set victory after straight-set victory at the 2013 Australian Open.

However, before you crown Fed with his 18th career Grand Slam title, know this: The competition is about to get a whole lot more difficult.

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The quarterfinal stage will present Fed with his next challenge in the form of seventh-seeded Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Fed knows Tsonga well, especially considering he was stunned by him at this stage of Wimbledon in 2011, when Tsonga came roaring back—down two sets to love—to eventually beat Fed in five sets on the London grass.

With just three rounds left to play before a champion is crowned, let's take a closer look at the biggest keys for Roger Federer as he inches forward in Melbourne.

First-Serve Success

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Federer boasts one of the greatest serves the game has ever seen, and you better believe he'll continue to use that weapon as he moves forward in Australia.

Fed has been getting roughly 65-70 percent of his first serves in the box, and making the best of those pinpoint serves shortly after. He's cashing in on 85 percent of his first-serve points so far through the first four rounds in Melbourne Park. He's even winning 62 percent of his second-serve points, proving tough to beat.

As long as Fed continues to dominate in service games, mainly on his first serve (which comes with more pace and direction with no fear of a double fault), his opponents will be facing immense pressure to hold serve themselves.

With that unbeatable serve, Fed only needs to gain one break in order to take the set.

Stay with the Forehand

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Fed has one of the most effortless forehands in tennis, and we're seeing it put to use once again in Australia. 

His backhand is certainly nothing to sneeze at, but when you consider just how much more effective Federer is with his right-handed forehand, the argument as to which shot is better for him is not even close. 

In his straight-sets win over Milos Raonic in the Round of 16, Fed hit 14 of his 17 rally winners with the forehand. On the flip side, he committed 14 of his 21 rally errors (forced and unforced) with the backhand. It's pretty clear Fed's strength lies in his precise and powerful forehand.

So long as Fed continues to dictate points and score with the forehand, there's no telling how far he can go this January.

Excel at the Net

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Federer is a player that rarely opts to come to the net and pressure his opponent from up close. Instead, the cool, calm legend would rather stay back and outclass his foe, waiting for his shot to push for a winner.

However, if Fed is to make a run to the final or even win his fifth career Aussie Open this year, he'll need to at least remain efficient at the net. In his win over Raonic, Fed won 14 of 15 net points. 

Not surprising, but still impressive.

That sort of efficiency will benefit an older Fed, who can use his skills at the net to shorten points on occasion and demoralize his opponents, who may perceive his patience and reluctance to attack as a weakness.

Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter throughout the 2013 Australian Open for more reaction and analysis on the year's first Grand Slam.

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