Australian Open: Roger Federer sees off Struff challenge in straight sets

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Australian Open: Roger Federer sees off Struff challenge in straight sets

World number 2 and defending Australian Open champion Roger Federer is safely through to the third round after a 6-4 6-4 7-6 victory against Jan-Lennard Struff in an hour and 57 minutes. They played only once before, in Halle 2016, and Roger won that won by 6-4 7-6, a similar outcome to today's match as well. This was the 89th win for Federer in Melbourne for the 19th straight year, ever since his first visit in 2000 at the age of 18! Jan-Lennard launched everything he had to stay in contention for as long as possible, saving 8 out of 11 break points he faced, and he managed to prolong the match with his only break in the 5th game of the third set, reducing his deficit and sending the match into a tie break, which Roger won by 7-4. Everything worked well for Roger outside that one loose service game, he was in the attacking mode all the time and he defending his backhand and the second serve with ease to close the match in straight sets and set the third round clash with Richard Gasquet on Saturday. 

Federer, the only player to amount more than 100 matches at a Grand Slam alongside Jimmy Connors, extended his record for most Australian Open match-wins. Having not lost in a major to a player ranked as low as No. 55 Struff since falling to No. 116 Sergiy Stakhovsky in the 2nd round at 2013 Wimbledon, and never at Australian Open as the lowest-ranked player to defeat him here was then No. 54 Arnaud Clement on the Swiss’ debut in 2000, Federer looked in control since the beginning of the match and broke to 3-2. Struff chose an attack-minded strategy and serve-volleyed almost regularly in the early stages though he left space to an easy forehand pass that helped Federer clinch an easy cushion. Struff forced Federer to deuce in the final game of the set and managed to save a couple of set points, though moments later Federer earned a third chance with a service winner, and he takes this one with an ace out wide.

The German, bidding to seal his second Top 10 career win and to record his best Grand Slam result, maintained a good level and saved a couple of break points before holding to 2-1, the latter after winning the point of the tournament with a well-controlled half-volley after an epic point at the net that left Federer furious behind the paraded smile.

Bur the break arrived to 4-3. Federer, looking increasingly confident, delivered a gorgeous backhand pass and in the next return game risked even a SABR when down 40-0. But that was arguably the only exception, the only concession to fun in a humourless performance. Federer meant business and built a two-sets lead with another love hold completing a streak of 15 consecutive points on serve.

Struff, able just once to recover such a gap, saved brilliantly three break points in the third game as the Swiss looked a bit tentative in  those points. In the very next game, Federer was broeìken for the first time in the tournament. Struff gained a well-deserved breakthrough and obtained his reward as Federer can't handle another booming forehand. But Federer's defence is clearly an underrated part of his game. The world No.2 drilled massive returns, that helped him control the rallies and flick a a backhand pass down the line to get the imemdiate break back. He missed five further break points and served twice to stay in the set. In the latter, he held in 54 seconds thanks to three aces and a backhand error from the German.

Struff opened the tiebreak with a double fault and Federer never looked back, closing out the match at the second match point. The Swiss will play Gasquet for the 19th time in the ATP circuit, leading 16-2 in the head to heads. To move to the second week, the Frenchman will have to beat the Swiss for the first time since the 2011 Rome Masters and the first ever on a surface different from the clay.


Second round result: