'I’ll be interested to see if Roger Federer can stay great for...', says expert

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'I’ll be interested to see if Roger Federer can stay great for...', says expert

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

A much more difficult obstacle stood between Roger and place in the quarters, with Lleyton Hewitt waiting on the other side of the net. The Australian had an early lead in the rivalry with 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 was coming from 2-0 to Roger in the same stadium to seal the deal with Australia, looking to repeat that performance and stay on track for the title. Instead, Federer defeated the Australian 4-6, 6-3, 6-0, 6-4 in two hours and 18 minutes for his first Australian Open quarterfinal.

By scoring 14 aces, Roger erased six of seven break opportunities to keep his serve safe after an early setback that cost him the first set, taking the lead from set number two to advance to the quarterfinals. Hewitt got off to a solid start, but that's all we saw of him, broken five times of 13 chances offered to Roger in the final three sets.

Federer had around 50 winners (leaving Hewitt at a modest 15), adding more errors than his rival but doing enough to control the pace from the second set and host the quarter-final match with David Nalbandian.

Annacone discusses Roger Federer's status

Roger Federer made a losing return to clay as he was defeated by Spain's Pablo Andujar in the second round of the Geneva Open on Tuesday.

Federer had taken nearly 13 months off to deal with multiple knee injuries last year, and he has won just one match out of three in 2021 so far. In that context, Roger Federer's former coach and TV analyst Paul Annacone recently claimed that the 39-year-old's comeback this year is unlikely to be the same as the one he made four years ago.

"I think Paris is going to be really challenging for him," Annacone said. "But if the body sustains itself and maintains good health and he gets enough reps, Roger’s not going to go into the grass season not thinking he can win Wimbledon.

He'll say all the right stuff, but in his heart of hearts, he knows he can win that tournament." Much like Roger Federer, Serena Williams is also looking to make a winning return to clay this year. "The expectations for both of them are so rough," Annacone said.

"As soon as there’s a loss, there are all these sweeping conclusions. They are at the peril of their own brand, so to speak. They can definitely still be great, but I’ll be interested to see if they can stay great for a whole match, a whole tournament."