Roger Federer showed he still has plenty left in the tank, as he won his third-round match with Grigor Dimitrov in four sets (6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4) to advance to the fourth round of the Australian Open.
The tournament tweeted on Federer's win, as well as a huge milestone in the legend's career:
Roger Federer becomes the first man to win 300 Grand Slam matches, beating Grigor Dimitrov 6-4 3-6 6-1 6-4 pic.twitter.com/HFvgcH4BUO— Australian Open (@AustralianOpen) January 22, 2016
Neither player could take advantage of this match from the get-go. Federer and Dimitrov exchanged sets one and two, but both players committed multiple self-inflicted errors.
Dimitrov committed 11 unforced errors in the first set. The Australian Open tweeted this after it:
It wasn't any better for Federer in the second set, who had 17 unforced errors of his own, allowing Dimitrov to tie the match up after a 6-3 win.
Dimitrov was able to snag the set away from the Swiss superstar by using his power at the net and getting aggressive. ESPN's Brad Gilbert noted that, as well:
Dimitrov playing much more aggressive in 2nd set vs Fedfan that has turned this set in his favor— Brad Gilbert (@bgtennisnation) January 22, 2016
It appeared to be some form of deja vu in the Australian Open once again for Federer, who was in this type of predicament a year ago, per Ben Rothenberg of the New York Times:
Dimitrov making it interesting, taking second set 6-3 over Federer. Roger, who lost at #AusOpen in third round last year, a bit flat now.— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) January 22, 2016
Just when the 34-year-old appeared to lose momentum heading into the third set, Federer regained his form and took control. He made quick work of Dimitrov, winning 6-1. Federer won 9-of-11 first-serve points and won 27 points in total compared to Dimitrov's 14.
After taking a 4-2 lead in the fourth set, Federer had a golden chance to put a stranglehold on this match. However, despite more self-inflicted errors that caught up to Dimitrov, Dimitrov won on the fifth deuce of the game, making it a 4-3 advantage for Federer in the fourth set.
Frustration seemed to be creeping into Dimitrov's psyche at one point, which caused him to change sports for a brief moment, per the Cauldron:
Gregor Dimitrov with the soccer volley after Roger Federer breaks him https://t.co/J0yYJzWKa1— The Cauldron (@TheCauldron) January 22, 2016
Federer was serving for the match at 5-3, but Dimitrov broke back to make it a nervy finish for the Swiss star. In the end, after another return that went into the net, Federer sealed the deal with a forehand winner to give him the match in four sets.
Federer continues to look every bit like his old self in this tournament and is eyeing another quarterfinal appearance. In order to get there, he'll have to take down David Goffin in the fourth round.
There's a reason why Federer is, arguably, the greatest tennis player of this generation. Just look at this chart, courtesy of the Australian Open:
He's been winning, and winning consistently, for a long time. And now with 17 years under his belt, Federer just needs six more wins to tie Martina Navratilova for the most Grand Slam match wins in an entire career, according to Leigh Walsh of Live Wire Sport.
Federer also spoke highly of the 24-year-old Dimitrov after a hard-played match, per the Australian Open:
Federer: "[Grigor] picks up the ball similarly to me, on the forehand and the backhand. I enjoy his game. He is a good guy also" #AusOpen— Australian Open (@AustralianOpen) January 22, 2016
The Australian Open also provided a clip of Federer's postgame interview in its entirety:
Federer and Goffin will meet for the fourth time ever when they get together for their fourth-round matchup. Two of the three meetings have gone longer than straight sets, and one of those was the round of 16 in the 2012 French Open.
The first two sets went to a tiebreaker, but after Goffin took the first it was Federer who stormed back to win the next three sets.
"If you want to go in the quarterfinal you have to play a big match and you have to give everything and to play wonderful match to go to the quarterfinals,” Goffin said, per Vivienne Christie for the Australian Open. "So I just have to be focused on what I have to do, like every match, to be aggressive and take every opportunity as I can.”
Federer may have the advantage based on the history between these two, but this tournament has already shown that anything can happen.