Roger Federer faced his sternest test of 2018 in the form of Karen Khachanov. The Swiss won the encounter in straight sets (6-3 7-6(8)), however the match was anything but straightforward. Federer was pleased with his performance, and thinks that this match was, in a way, the best preparation he could get before the Australian open. Roger Federer also praised the youngster for mixing up his style of play and going for his shots.
‘It was nice to see him free swinging the entire match, which isn’t easy to do. I remember those days, match point down, you go for it, you don’t care. That is what you have to remind yourselves sometimes when you’re older, to go for it. He mixed up the play well, so it was a tough match for me’, said Federer.
‘I thought the intensity was great, the level was very high too.’ He added-‘Karen got off to a great start, me too actually. He put me under pressure early on and then we caught a great spell, an exhibition of serving for 45 minutes or so. The tiebreak was close, it was good to play that early on in the season, to play those nervy situations with the pulse up high, you’re sweating loads.’
The crowd was at its full capacity for the feisty encounter reaching a record attendance of 13,943. The Swiss maestro thanked his fans and reminded them, that one of the major reasons why he was still playing tennis with the same passion that he had years ago, was because of them.
‘It’s not normal because you have to work extremely hard for it to happen and people come out to watch you practice, which is what I actually found so weird when I came world No.1 back in 2004 in Rotterdam. I had a small warm-up and there were people out there. I was like ‘what are they doing here? It’s matches that matter’, I really can’t thank you enough every time that I stand here. I really don’t take it for granted. I think it’s what keeps me on the tour if I’m honest.’
If I had to play on outside courts, or in empty stadiums, I think the passion would go away a bit.’