The 19-year-old Novak Djokovic was one of the upcoming youngsters to watch in 2006 and early 2007, cracking the top-20 in 2006 and making the best start in the next season after conquering the title in Adelaide. Novak was among the dark horses in Melbourne, passing the opening three rounds with ease and setting the clash with world no.
1 and the defending champion Roger Federer in the battle for the quarter-final. The Belgrade native was too strong for Nicolas Massu, Feliciano Lopez and Danai Udomchoke, dropping one set in three encounters and hoping to challenge Federer after two losses in 2006.
Despite his desire to remain unbeaten that season, Novak couldn't do much against the more experienced and better-ranked rival, suffering a 6-2, 7-5, 6-3 loss after an hour and 50 minutes to propel Roger into the quarters.
Federer had the upper hand almost all the time, facing only two break chances and controlling the pace on the return as well to deliver five breaks and seal the deal in straight sets. With 50 winners, Roger was the ruler of the court, forging the advantage in the shortest and mid-range exchanges and prevailing in that tight second set to grab the third win over the Serb in as many encounters.
The Swiss was off to a strong start, earning breaks in games four and eight to take the opener 6-2, opening a 4-1 advantage in set number two before Novak bounced back with his only break in game seven, playing we in those moments to almost reaching a tie break.
In the 12th game, Federer won four straight points on the return to grab the crucial break and open two sets to love lead, moving over the top with a break in the fourth game of the third set. Speaking after the loss, Novak said he would take only the positive notes from another defeat against Roger, hoping to play against him plenty of times in the future.
"I'm still taking positive notes from this loss; that's the only way you can win against him; you have to be positive and confident. You can't defeat Roger if you step on the court hoping to play your best tennis and perform well; that's not enough.
I feel a bit sorry about the loss and the second set but there is a lot more in front of me; I hope to face Federer at many tournaments in the future."