Roger Federer recalls: 'I turned out to be a bad guy when I..'



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Roger Federer recalls: 'I turned out to be a bad guy when I..'

Roger Federer was a man on the mission at the Australian Open 2004, seeking the first significant result in Melbourne and the ATP throne. The Swiss defeated Alex Bogomolov Jr., Jeff Morrison and Todd Reid in the opening three rounds, dropping 20 games in nine sets against the rivals from outside the top-100 to enter the last 16.

A much more challenging obstacle stood between Roger and a place in the quarters, with Lleyton Hewitt standing on the other side of the net. The Aussie had an early lead in the rivalry against the Swiss, scoring seven wins from the opening nine clashes.

Hewitt wished for another strong performance against Federer in front of the home crowd on Rod Laver Arena. In the 2003 Davis Cup semi-final, Lleyton came from two sets to love down against Roger on the same stadium to seal the deal for Australia, looking to repeat that performance and remain on the title course.

Instead, Federer toppled Hewitt 4-6, 6-3, 6-0, 6-4 in two hours and 18 minutes for his first Australian Open quarter-final. Hitting 14 aces, Roger erased six out of seven break chances to keep his serve safe after an early setback that cost him the opener.

He had the upper hand from set number two to advance into the last eight and improve his chance to lift the second Major crown. Hewitt made a solid start, but that was all we saw from him, getting broken five times from 13 opportunities offered to Roger in the last three sets for another failure in front of the home crowd.

Federer had around 50 winners (leaving Hewitt on a modest 15), spraying more errors but doing enough to control the pace from the second set and arrange the quarter-final meeting with David Nalbandian. Roger had the upper hand in the shortest and mid-range rallies, following Lleyton's numbers in the most advanced exchanges to outplay the rival.

From 40-15 in the first game, Federer made a couple of errors to lose four straight points and suffer a break.

Roger Federer defeated Lleyton Hewitt in the fourth round in Melbourne 2004.

The Aussie fended off two break chances in the next one to confirm it, and he barely dropped a point on serve in the rest of the set to take it 6-4.

Roger stayed focused at the beginning of the second set to avoid the same scenario and grabbed four consecutive points in game six for his first break and a 4-2 advantage. Federer saved a break point a few minutes later to cement the lead and fought off a couple more at 5-3 to clinch the set and level the overall score.

The third set turned into a disaster for the home favorite, as he experienced three breaks and allowed Roger to deliver a bagel and gain a massive boost. The Swiss earned a crucial break at 2-2 in the fourth to build the advantage.

Roger fended off a break chance while serving for the win at 5-4 and moved over the top with a smash winner to advance into the quarters. "I'm chasing no. 1 spot in this tournament, and I turned out to be a bad guy who put Lleyton out of the draw. My goal is to go further, and I start from zero ahead of the quarters," Roger Federer said.