Roger Federer sets Grand Slam streak; Advances to second round of Australian Open

Roger Federer stepped onto Rod Laver Arena for the start of his record 57th straight Grand Slam tournament Tuesday afternoon, and dismissed 21-year-old Australian wild card James Duckworth 6-4, 6-4, 6-2.

With coach Stefan Edberg watching from his box, the 32-year-old Swiss created 17 break point chances and capitalised four times to close out the win in one hour and 46 minutes.

"It was not much rhythm out there," said Federer. "It was a matter of getting the job done and not getting broken. So it was a solid match from start to finish. Could have maybe won a few more break points here and there, but who cares now?"

Federer, who is chasing his fifth Australian Open title, hasn't missed a Grand Slam tournament since the 1999 US Open. He surpassed the mark previously held by South African Wayne Ferreira, who appeared in 56 straight majors from the 1992 through 2003 Australian Opens.

"Clearly that's a record in a way I guess I'm proud of in some ways, because there's no shortcuts in Grand Slams because of the best of five set situation," he said. "Two weeks and it's spread out throughout the year, so you have to stay injury free and be healthy. I showed that for 13 years."

Asked how he handled the heat, the 32-year-old Federer said: ''I'm here. I'm speaking. Actually, it's not crazy.''

''It was very dry, just hot, stinging sort of sun,'' he added later. ''Depending on where you come from it has a bigger effect on you, this type of heat. So it's very personal, and it can become just a very mental thing - you just can't accept that it's hot.''

Federer next plays Slovenian Blaz Kavcic, who advanced when Radek Stepanek retired in the fourth set of their first-round match. Stepanek had had won the first two sets, but only won one of the last nine games.

Federer and Edberg make dream team debut

Racing into the second round of his record 57th consecutive Grand Slam tournament with a straight-sets win over Australian wildcard James Duckworth, Roger Federer managed a rare glance to his player box to check that champion coach debutant Stefan Edberg was paying attention. He was.

"I realised after a set that I didn't look up once yet. I better check if he's actually sitting there," Federer said of Edberg. “I did see him. He was wearing sunglasses. Okay, he is there.

"I don't look up much. I stopped doing that way back when because you just can't be dependent on these looks all the time.  Being coached from the sidelines; that's not how I grew up.

"I feel like it's like in school, you do your work.  At home, you get ready for the test, and then the test, you don't cheat and you try to do your best. I see it the same way in tennis."

The match against Duckworth was the first time Edberg warmed Federer up before a match - a multi-tasking hitting partner and coach - and after a successful debut, the 17-time Grand Slam champion is eager to go through the post-match motions before his second round against Slovenian Blaz Kavcic on Thursday.

"We will probably go to dinner tonight and just see who else joins in, and then we will just watch some matches. I think he wants to see quite a few matches live, as well. Because he's seen a lot on TV but, live is a different game. So he's going to do a bit of that.

"Tomorrow we will just go through the motions in practice and discuss my future opponent.  Just spend time, the three of us, with Severin Luthi, my coach, as well. That's what's on the planning front right now."

While Federer remained couth about his 57-straight Grand Slam appearances, he cracked a smile at the mention of one of his seemingly countless records, the most ATP Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Awards. The partnership seemed a match-up destined to eventuate.

"It’s a bit weird, and I think I won it more than he did. That's my favourite thing about the award,” Federer laughed.

"I'm joking. Obviously he was a role model for me growing up, the way he conducted himself on the court, away from the court, in the press room. I learned a lot from him, and it's nice to have him in my corner and be able to just speak to him and be inspired by what he says about the game today and about how it used to be for him maybe, telling me stories."

His sixth seeding is Federer’s lowest at the Australian Open since 2003, but the relaxed Swiss, with 59 total Grand Slam appearances, well and truly has the experience behind him.

"I think it's only a thing players do since maybe 20 years ago to go to all the Slams. By virtue of that Slams have gotten more important over the years."

Date: 14th January 2014, Source: ATP


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