January 22, 2018 / 7:07 AM / a month ago

Federer makes light of day shift to ease into last eight

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Roger Federer was a strictly nocturnal beast throughout the first week of the Australian Open but proved just as effective with the sun on his back as he sauntered into the quarter-finals for the 14th time on Monday.

The defending champion did not require his dazzling best against 80th-ranked Hungarian Marton Fucsovics in his first match scheduled during the day session but still emerged a comfortable 6-4 7-6(3) 6-2 winner.

After his earlier-than-usual finish, the 36-year-old world number two said he might even be able to make the most of a night off and take his wife Mirka out for dinner.

“I was considering sunglasses and a towel for the beach but, no, the only thing is the racket strings are a bit tighter but it’s not crazy hot today,” Federer told former champion Jim Courier in a knockabout post-match chat on court.

“It’s a different rhythm playing in the day and not going to bed at 3 a.m. We might go out for dinner tonight but Mirka has left already -- she must have other plans!”

Federer’s light mood matched the sunny conditions and he was even reduced to giggles during one point late in the second set when he miss-hit a forehand high into the air, then defended three consecutive Fucsovics smashes to win a bizarre rally.

“This one was the biggest joke of a point maybe I have ever played,” he said later. “Thankfully it didn’t decide the outcome of that second set. That would have been too much of a joke, to be honest.”

Tennis - Australian Open - Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne, Australia, January 22, 2018. Roger Federer of Switzerland shakes hands with Marton Fucsovics of Hungary after Federer won their match. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

Federer is yet to drop a set and did not even face a break point against the 25-year-old Fucsovics, who arrived in Melbourne without a grand slam main draw victory to his name.

Yet his unheralded opponent, bidding to become only the third Hungarian man to reach a grand slam quarter-final in the professional era, offered an all-round display that belied his record, even if it did not surprise Federer.

“I practiced with him for a few days in a row in Switzerland. That helped, you know, knowing his strength and weaknesses a little bit,” he said.

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”He was not completely the unknown opponent that maybe people thought he was.

“He hung with me for a long time. So it was a good match.”

Federer was in cruise control in the first set but struck decisively when Fucsovics served at 4-5, squeezing the throttle enough to earn a set point converted with a smash.

Fucsovics kept Federer honest in the second set and played his part in some entertaining rallies to extend the 19-times grand slam champion to a tiebreak.

Federer rifled a running forehand pass to earn three set points and again finished the set at the net, with a smash.

The third set was all over in 31 minutes as Federer raced into the 52nd grand slam quarter-final of his career, booking a last eight encounter against 19th seeded Czech Tomas Berdych.

Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Peter Rutherford/John O'Brien

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