'Roger Federer's one of my dear friends but...', says former No.1

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'Roger Federer's one of my dear friends but...', says former No.1

Roger Federer was eager to achieve his first notable result at the Australian Open in 2004. The Swiss traveled to Melbourne without a coach, and used a favorable draw to beat three opponents out of the top-100 and enter the knockout stages after lose 20 games in nine sets.

After three easy obstacles, Roger had to overcome one of the most challenging obstacles on his way to the title, facing local star Lleyton Hewitt in a battle for the quarterfinals. The Australian had an early lead in the rivalry against Federer, scoring seven wins in the first nine meetings and hoping for more of the same in front of the home crowd at Rod Laver Arena.

In the 2003 Davis Cup semi-final, Lleyton came two sets to zero against Roger in the same stadium to seal the deal for Australia. Federer was eager to avenge that loss, and produced a 4-6, 6-3, 6-0, 6-4 victory in two hours and 18 minutes for his first Australian Open quarterfinal.

With 14 aces, Roger erased six of seven break opportunities to keep his serve safe after an early setback that cost him the first set. Hewitt got off to a solid start, but that's all we saw of him, broken five times out of 13 chances Roger was offered for another failure in front of the home crowd.

Federer had around 50 winners, making more mistakes but doing enough to control the pace from the second set and organize the meeting with David Nalbandian. Roger had the upper hand in the shorter and medium rallies while he followed Lleyton's numbers in the more advanced exchanges to outrun the opponent in style.

Going 40-15 in the first game, Federer made a couple of mistakes to lose four points in a row and suffer a break.

Andy Roddick on the Big 3

Andy Roddick recently threw his weight behind Novak Djokovic in the GOAT debate. Roddick believes statistical achievements must be given the most importance while evaluating the GOAT, which is why he feels Djokovic has surpassed his rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

"Roger's one of my dear, dear friends, I have so much respect for Rafa Nadal - I hope they both come back and win Majors," Andy Roddick said. "But also very clearly, if Novak Djokovic ends his career with the most Grand Slam titles of all time, it is a statistical impossibility to argue against him being the greatest based on numbers, which is what we should base it on off."

The former US Open champion also reckons the recent injury problems faced by Federer and Nadal have, in a way, propelled Djokovic to perform at his best. "Listen, he senses blood in the water (with main rivals injured), he knows that he's arguably playing the best tennis of his career now," Roddick added. "Like this might have been his best season ever."