If Roger Federer continues to serve throughout the 2016 Australian Open like he did Wednesday in his straight-sets victory over Alexandr Dolgopolov, the rest of the field is in serious trouble.
Federer cruised to a 6-3, 7-5, 6-1 win, which marked his second triumph in straight sets in two tries Down Under. He notched an incredible 25 aces in only three sets and controlled the contest from the opening games with his strong serve.
Dolgopolov managed to compete in the second set but never had much of a chance given Federer's overall efficiency. Per the Australian Open's official website, the No. 3 seed was a head-turning 43-of-49 on first-service points and managed five break points along the way to clinch the win and a spot in the third round.
The Australian Open passed along highlights of the aftermath following Federer's victory:
Roger Federer is through to the third round #AusOpen https://t.co/KLRY6X0q432016-1-20 04:48:20
Federer won his first-round match in straight sets and dropped only five total games, and he once again looked like a dominant force in the first set Tuesday against Dolgopolov.
Federer won the first set, 6-3, and notched nine aces to Dolgopolov's two. What's more, Federer was 15-of-16 on first-service points and took advantage of one timely break point to capture the set with relative ease. Australian Open analyst Craig O'Shannessy commented on the early action:
Craig O'Shannessy @BrainGameTennis
Ace. 6-3. Not really that close. #Federer humming. #Dolgopolov searching for his best level. Will need it. #AusOpen https://t.co/MXG6AQpG4p2016-1-20 03:39:46
While it looked like the Swiss star was well on his way to another easy win, Dolgopolov battled back in the second set behind his own consistency with the serve. He even had Federer on his heels at times, as O'Shannessy noted:
Craig O'Shannessy @BrainGameTennis
5-4 #Dolgopolov. #Federer burnt 3 times recently trying to stretch Alex wide to his FH. Way too athletic & creative out there. #AusOpen2016-1-20 04:10:31
The two competitors remained on serve for the majority of the second set, but Federer finally broke through with a break to make it 6-5 and set up an opportunity to seize a commanding 2-0 lead. He did just that and finished the set, 7-5, behind a nearly unstoppable serve.
David Law of BBC 5 Live described one incredible shot in particular:
Federer, face on to the court, just hit a behind-the-back off-forehand winner off a net-cord missed serve. Ripple of knowing applause.2016-1-20 04:20:28
Even though Dolgopolov was hanging with the 17-time Grand Slam winner, Federer's serve dictated those opening two sets. Law put things in perspective:
Two sets, 21 aces, Federer 6-3, 7-5. Conclusion: he's still quite good.2016-1-20 04:24:24
ESPN Tennis highlighted just how much trouble Dolgopolov was in given the slow start:
Four-time champ is an incredible 239-2 when winning 1st two sets in Majors. Watch live coverage of Fed on ESPN2 now. https://t.co/yON8APGAdm2016-1-20 04:28:13
With the victory in sight, Federer did not let his opponent threaten in the third and final set. He tallied two quick breaks and found himself ahead 4-1 and in full control. The Australian Open pointed out that it was business as usual for the all-time great in the opening couple of rounds in the event:
Roger #Federer looking to maintain his record of always reaching 3R of the #ausopen with a win over #Dolgopolov. https://t.co/Q8ipfQCaxN2016-1-20 04:42:39
With those two quick breaks in the third set, the finish was inevitable, especially with how well Federer served Tuesday. He notched another service-game win to push it to 5-1 and then broke Dolgopolov for the third time in the set to finish the match in clean straight sets, 6-3, 7-5, 6-1.
Federer will play the winner of the second-round showdown between Marco Trungelliti and Grigor Dimitrov in the third round.
Dimitrov likely poses the bigger threat as the No. 27 seed, but Federer has dominated him throughout his career. In fact, according to SteveGTennis.com, Federer holds a 4-0 advantage in their head-to-head matches and will look to dictate the tempo of the match once again with his strong serve.
Considering Federer had 25 aces Tuesday and won eight break points in the first round win against Nikoloz Basilashvili, it is difficult to envision Dimitrov pulling off the upset. Federer already demonstrated his versatility in his first two matches and proved he can win with the serve or with longer rallies when he is attempting to break.
Federer has too much experience as a 17-time Grand Slam winner and too many tricks in his bags to lose in the early rounds.
Federer discussed his victory and overall mindset in a post-match interview, per the Australian Open: “Very happy. Conditions are extremely quick, so you’re not going to find that much rhythm and I thought I served great.”
Federer also recognized the importance of that second set as the turning point, per the Australian Open: “As the match went on I started to feel better and better, but the second set was definitely crucial.”
If Federer continues to “feel better and better” as the tournament continues, an 18th Grand Slam is well within reach given his level of play in the first two rounds.