Australian Open 2020: First three rounds the key for Federer

By Sports Desk January 20, 2020

Roger Federer hopes to set up his Australian Open campaign in the first three rounds after making an impressive start on Monday.

Despite not playing a lead-up tournament, the Swiss great looked in fine form in a 6-3 6-2 6-2 victory over Steve Johnson on Rod Laver Arena.

Federer, a 20-time grand slam champion, said the early rounds would be key after opting against competitive matches ahead of the year's first major.

"I just haven't played proper matches in many, many weeks, and a lot of guys, probably 95 per cent of the guys, are coming here with matches. I'm not one of those guys," he told a news conference.

"Now I have one. Best of five, too, which is even better. I think for me really the first three rounds are key to get going, to get used to the pressure, stay calm, when to save break point or 30-30 points or whatever it may be or just to stay calm if you're down a set and a break or whatever it might be.

"This is sort of the unknown that can be a little bit scary at times. But today there was none of that because I broke early each set and was able to get on a roll, play freely after that. And also felt I had margin.

"Anything I was doing I felt like I had the game under control. That might not be the case in the next round, so I just think I have to be careful.

"Round by round, point for point mentality. I know other guys that are playing extremely well right now so I think it's just important to stay very calm about things right now."

Federer produced a polished display against Johnson, hitting 34 winners and 20 unforced errors.

And, asked about the court speed, Federer said it was similar to last year at Melbourne Park.

"I think balls play fast when they are new, a ball change for a couple of games, depending on who you play, how long the rallies are right then," he said.

"But I'd say two to four games it can play faster. But the balls fluff up extremely quickly here when you do get into long rallies. And I feel night sessions or indoor or on a cool day like what we will see in the next week, actually play quite slow. It is what it is, you know.

"But I think it depends on how you play maybe also and how you manage your game and what kind of opponent you have, for all sort of playing styles, I guess."

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