Following an excellent 2003 season that saw him winning Wimbledon and the Masters Cup, Roger Federer was ready for more in 2004. Parting ways with Peter Lundgren after over three years, Federer went to Melbourne without a coach but still one of the favorites at the season's first Major.
In his first official match with no trainer, Federer defeated Alex Bogomolov Jr. 6-3, 6-4, 6-0 in an hour and a half. The Swiss had the upper hand from start to finish, dropping 15 points in his games and keeping the pressure on the other side of the net.
Facing another rival ranked outside the top-100, Federer toppled Jeff Morrison 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 in an hour and 34 minutes to advance into the third round. Roger canceled all four break chances and delivered four return games to move over the top remain on the title course.
The third round brought another lower-ranked rival, and Federer sailed towards a commanding 6-3, 6-0, 6-1 victory over Todd Reid. It was all over in 74 minutes, with the Swiss player getting broken for the first time in the tournament, earning no less than eight breaks to outplay the Aussie and march over the finish line, setting the clash against Lleyton Hewitt.
In their previous match on the same court in September last year, Hewitt ousted Federer 5-7, 2-6, 7-6, 7-5, 6-1 to secure the third point for the home nation against Switzerland in the Davis Cup semi-final.
Roger Federer and Lleyton Hewitt set the 2004 Australian Open clash.
Hewitt won only five points more than Federer in that one, with both players dominating in one set and staying close to each other in the other three.
The Swiss had more winners and more unforced errors, keeping the points on his racquet but fading from the court after a tight fourth set. Roger was ready to change his poor record against Lleyton at the Australian Open, feeling confident about his game ahead of a challenging duel.
"I'm looking forward to facing Lleyton Hewitt in the next round. It's a good match-up, with different styles; we always have exciting matches. He has a good record against me; that's his advantage. Hopefully, I can change that.
We have always had very tight encounters; in one of my victories, I had to save a match point; otherwise, it could have been 9-1 in his favor, but also 5-5. These courts are tough to handle physically; I always get a lot of muscle pain from playing on them, even in quick matches.
I practice on these courts back home in Switzerland, but I have difficulties when I come here. That's how it is," Roger Federer said.