Federer overcame world No. 99 Kavcic 6-2, 6-1, 7-6(4) in an hour and 49 minutes, conserving his energy for future tests to come in the competition.
This year’s campaign for Federer is all about proving he can still mix it with the game’s younger stars, but his slump in form over the past year meant he was forced to play on Hisense Arena for the first time since 2004:
The Swiss master had previously spoken of his new mindset heading into major tournaments, insisting he will sacrifice perfection for clinical tennis, per Melissa Isaacson of ESPN:
At the moment, just getting through, beating the heat, with no injuries … I just want to play inspired tennis and enjoy it out there and not think I must play perfect, clean tennis. I think it's going to pay off.
One of the keys to Federer’s new approach, at the age of 32, is to attack the net more often to kill points early.
Against Kavcic, he did that with 100 percent success in set one, winning all eight points when he left the security of the baseline, per the tournament’s official website.
He then cut short another five points in set two, committing only six unforced errors as he quickly took complete control of the contest.
New coach Stefan Edberg will be key to coaxing a new style from Federer, and former star Jonas Bjorkman had earlier noted their preparations prior to the match commencing:
The gulf in class was obvious, and there was little Kavcic could do. Federer hit 17 winners in each of the opening two sets. His rival managed five in total across both.
However, Kavcic did manage to extend his illustrious rival at times, such as this point provided by the Australian Open’s official Twitter account:
Such moments act as a warning to Federer as he advances in the competition. Kavcic did not have the weapons to stretch the Swiss consistently, but the likes of Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic likely will.
That is why it is important to note Federer’s statistics at the net as he gets deeper into the draw. He will likely need to be even more aggressive when he faces the top seeds.
After years at the top, it appears the 17-time Grand Slam winner is in decline, although his popularity remains such that he attracted more viewers than Nadal, who was playing at the same time on the Rod Laver Arena:
That popularity is largely due to the incredible style and consistency he has shown over so many years, consistency that is highlighted by ESPNTennis:
Set three looked set to become a stroll for Federer, who had dropped only three games, but Kavcic showed admirable resolve to push his rival in the third, hanging in the match to force a tiebreaker.
However, after falling behind at 3-2, Federer won five of the next six points to book his place into round three.