Together with Rafael Nadal, Tomas Berdych, Andy Murray, Marcos Baghdatis and Richard Gasquet, Novak Djokovic was among the most notable youngsters at the end of 2006. The Belgrade native won two ATP titles that year, advancing to his first Major quarter-final at Roland Garros and earning more than 60 ranking positions for a reliable place ahead of the new race in 2007.
Djokovic opened the action in Adelaide, lifting the third ATP trophy following a tight win over Chris Guccione and preparing for the first Major of the season in Melbourne. Novak had two early exits at the Australian Open in the past two years, fixing that with a commanding victory over Nicolas Massu, dropping two games and playing well against Feliciano Lopez too for another triumph in straight sets.
In the third round, Novak ousted Danai Udomchoke in four sets to arrange the expected encounter against world no. 1 and the defending champion Roger Federer. It was their third meeting and the Swiss grabbed the third win over the younger opponent, beating Novak 6-2, 7-5, 6-3 in an hour and 50 minutes for the place in the quarters.
Roger barely put a foot wrong behind the initial shot, suffering one break and stealing 45% of the return points to grab five breaks and control the pace almost all the time. Federer landed 50 winners and managed his strokes efficiently to have the upper hand in the quickest and mid-range exchanges, prevailing in the decisive moments of the second set and sailing towards the finish line.
After the match, Novak praised Roger while saying he barely feels the pressure in the pivotal moments, always finding the best solutions and standing superior against all the rivals who want to take the throne from him. "The difference of playing against Roger and other rivals is in the way how confident and perfect he appears on the court in some situations.
It almost feels there's no pressure on his side of the court and that's strange because he is there against all the opponents who want to take the no. 1 spot from him; he is so superior. He knows he is the best, facing all the rivals from the top and having a positive score with all of them except Nadal.
That makes him comfortable out there. Also, I believe he is improving his game all the time, which is not easy; he plays better and better every time."