After overcoming a flu bug to destroy German qualifier Tobias Kamke 6-2 6-1, a far more difficult test awaits Federer in the shape of Grigor Dimitrov at Pat Rafter Arena.
Even the Swiss maestro himself isn’t quite sure what to expect of himself, having been struck down by illness since arriving in Brisbane and only spending 55 minutes on court in disposing of Kamke in his season opener last night.
Federer met Dimitrov in the semi-final of the Brisbane event last year, giving up only four games in a straight sets victory, but said he expects a “tougher” rematch.
“It’s earlier in the tournament. Okay, maybe just one round earlier, but it’s been a rocky last couple of days,” he said.
“Don’t quite know what to expect quite yet. Plus today was thankfully short, but also doesn’t give me as much information as where my game is at.
“In practice in December it’s been great. I have been hitting the ball well. I am where I want to be. Then again, we’ll see.”
Former world No.8 Dimitrov came from behind in searing Queensland heat to beat Serbia’s Viktor Troicki in a nearly three-hour epic, notching a 5-7 7-6 (8-6) 6-2 win to earn his spot in the quarters.
“He’s had a tough grind today, but he’s extremely match tough. I expect him to be fresh again,” Federer said.
“I played him quite aggressive last year and that worked well. We’ll see if I’ll do the same again.”
The Federer-Dimitrov clash is the main event of the evening session at the Queensland Tennis Centre, with the women’s singles semi-final between Belarusian Victoria Azarenka and American surprise packet Samantha Crawford to follow.
The last remaining Australian in the tournament, Bernard Tomic, faces Japanese star Kei Nishikori, while third seed Marin Cilic tackles Austria’s Dominic Thiem and fourth seed Milos Raonic is up against Frenchman Lucas Pouille.
The other women’s semi tonight will pit German Angelique Kerber, the highest-seeded player left in the draw, against plucky Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro.
Meanwhile, French Open runner-up Lucie Safarova has withdrawn from the Australian Open as she continues to battle a bacterial infection.
The world No.9 took to Twitter to post her scratching.
As an athlete I'm used to fight on court to win,today it's off court to get my health back.Sorry Ausie I miss you.. pic.twitter.com/v0ZAlAMjFn
— lucie safarova (@luciesafarova) January 7, 2016
“As an athlete I’m used to fight on court to win. Today it’s off court to get my health back. Sorry Ausie (sic) I miss you,” the Czech tweeted.
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