Australian Open: Federer wary of ‘Baby Fed’ Dimitrov in third round

Roger Federer said he hoped to erase his shock defeat in last year’s Australian Open third round on Wednesday as he set up an enticing last-32 showdown with Grigor Dimitrov — the Bulgarian once dubbed “Baby Fed”.

 Federer, the 17-time Grand Slam record-holder, was never in trouble against his Ukrainian practice partner Alexandr Dolgopolov in a clinical 6-3, 7-5, 6-1 win in one hour, 33 minutes on Rod Laver Arena. While his great rival Rafael Nadal fell at the first hurdle, the Swiss great has now reached the third round in all 17 of his appearances at Melbourne Park.

Next up for the Swiss is 27th seed Dimitrov, the former world number eight and a finalist last week in Sydney who was long dubbed ‘Baby Fed’ because of his similarities to Federer’s elegant game.

After last year’s campaign ended at this stage with a stunning defeat to Italy’s Andreas Seppi, third-ranked Federer hopes to avoid another upset this time around.

“Grigor did well in Sydney and that definitely will give him a bit of a lift,” Federer said.

“I think it’s a tough draw. He’s got the game to be really dangerous. He’s fit enough for a five-setter so I’ve gotta definitely bring my best game to the court.

“It’s the least I expect to be in the third round of a Slam, obviously, so I’m pumped up, playing well, feeling good.

“But there’s always a danger, you know. Like last year the third round was the end for me, so I hope to go further this time.”

Federer’s loss to Seppi condemned him to his earliest exit from the season’s first Grand Slam in 14 years.

Against Dimitrov, the 34-year-old will be seeking his 300th Grand Slam singles victory as he chases his fifth title at the Australian Open, and first since 2010.

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