Following a great run in 2019 that kept him inside the top-3 alongside Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer was ready for another strong campaign in 2020. Arriving in Melbourne early, Roger prepared for the season's first Major, seeking the third Australian Open crown in the last four years.
Federer had opted to skip the ATP Cup and stay on the practice court ahead of Melbourne. Roger found time to watch a bit of action from Sydney, as Djokovic defeated Nadal 7-6, 6-2 in the ATP Cup final to keep Serbia alive ahead of the doubles rubber.
Roger admitted that Nadal and Djokovic had already reached a high level despite the early days of the season, stating it would be tough to beat them at the Australian Open. Playing against each other for the 55th time, Novak scored the 29th victory over world no.
1 and the ninth straight on the hard courts! Novak scored a 6-2, 7-6 triumph in an hour and 55 minutes, delivering the sixth consecutive victory of the season and reducing the deficit to Nadal on the ATP ranking list ahead of the Australian Open.
Djokovic dominated the first set before Nadal responded in the second, staying in touch with the Serb and missing a chance to break him at 3-2 and move in front. Firing 12 aces, Novak dropped only 14 points in ten service games, repelling those five break chances and stealing Nadal's serve twice in the opener for the best possible start.
Rafa served better in the second set and followed Novak's pace after erasing two late break points, only to fall in the tie break and send Novak over the top. Firing from all cylinders, Novak converted the third break chance in the first game when Nadal's slice found the net and cemented it with a service winner after deuce in game two.
Roger Federer watched the clash betwee Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.
Battling for every point, Rafa fended off two break chances in the fifth game to remain within one break deficit before Novak landed another deep return that carried him towards a 5-2 lead.
Serving for the set, the Serb blasted four service winners to take it 6-2 after 39 minutes, hoping for more of the same in the rest of the clash. Raising his level in set number two, Rafa lost only three points in the opening three service games and earned five break opportunities at 3-2 that could have given him momentum.
Producing bold and brave hitting, Djokovic repelled them to remain on the positive side, serving well in the rest of the set and having a chance to seal the deal in the 11th game when Nadal faced two break chances. With his back pushed against the wall, Rafa fired two winners to get out of jail and reach a tie break, moving 3-2 up there with a backhand down the line winner.
Djokovic responded with two winners that pushed him 4-3 in front and gained another mini-break with a backhand down the line winner in the ninth point. Nadal sprayed a backhand slice error to face two match points and netted a forehand in the next one to hand the victory to Novak ahead of the deciding doubles encounter.
"I've trained long and hard in the off-season, and I did not have any setbacks, which is crucial. Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal are already showing great signs of form at such an early stage of the season. I was watching a bit of their ATP Cup match and thought it was a great one. Both guys are always tough to beat when they are injury-free," Roger Federer said.