Roger Federer played some outstanding tennis in his third round encounter against Tomas Berdych in the Australian Open, winning the match in straight sets. Now, the Swiss ace will hope to deliver the goods against fifth seed Kei Nishikori in the fourth round on Sunday.
The former world number one, who missed the second half of last season after his knee surgery earlier in 2016, is slowly picking up the momentum with some quality tennis in the Australian Open. Federer lost a set against Jurgen Melzer in the opening round of the Australian Open. Since then he has looked in ominous form. However, the match against Nishikori is going to be his biggest test in the year's first grand slam.
Inarguably, Federer was the clear favourite against Nishikori in their previous outings. However, with Federer's long absence, it remains to be seen if the Swiss can continue his dominance over the Japanese. Federer has defeated Nishikori in their last three head-to-head matches. Overall, Federer leads 4-2.
However, Federer is aware of the huge threat Nishikori can mount.
"If he's the favourite, I'm the favourite, I don't know. But he's definitely played better and more tennis in recent months. But then again, it's a new season. We'll see what happens," Australian Open's official website quoted Federer as saying.
"But I'm a big fan of his game. He's got one of the best backhands out there. I love how he can crush it down the line or crosscourt. He's got wonderful second serve returns. He's fast on his legs. Strong in his mind. I know how tough he is as the match goes along. He finds his range and his rhythm, he's tough to stop."
Though Federer is all praise for his fellow opponent, the Swiss is more than capable to turn on the heat in the fourth round. If the 35-year-old gets into the zone, no player will be able to match his standards.
Nishikori survived a scare against Andrey Kuznetsov in the laborious five-set opening round. Since then, the 27-year-old has been quite brilliant, winning his last two matches in straight sets.
The fifth seed has all the shots in the book to trouble Federer. It seems the audience are in for some tough rallies. Nishikori is keen to face Federer, though he understands the tough task at hand.
"Well, yeah, for sure it's not going to be easy. But, you know, it's always great to play Roger. It's big challenge for me. Yeah, I'm just happy to play him because I think we needed him on the tour. Happy to see him back a hundred percent. Yeah, excited to play next round," Nishikori said.
When to Watch Live
Federer vs Nishikori Australian Open fourth round contest is set to begin at 7pm local time (1.30pm IST, 8am GMT, 3am ET). Below are the TV and live streaming information.
UK: TV: EuroSport. Live Streaming: EuroSport Player.
Australia: TV: Channel 7. Live Streaming: 7 Live.
USA: TV: ESPN 3. Live Streaming: Watch ESPN.