MELBOURNE Jan 19 (Reuters) - Roger Federer crushed the hopes of a nation by dismantling local favourite Bernard Tomic 6-4 7-6 6-1 to sail into the last 16 of the Australian Open on Saturday.
The much-hyped clash between the Swiss maestro and his 20-year-old opponent briefly caught fire in the middle stages but ultimately fizzled out under the lights of Rod Laver Arena, as Federer marched to a clinical 118-minute victory.
Tomic came within two points of snatching the second set in an atmosphere akin to a soccer match, but second seed Federer saw off the challenge and closed out the match with a monster serve.
Federer next plays Milos Raonic as he bids for an 18th grand slam title and fifth at Melbourne Park.
(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by ...)