Roger Federer booked his spot in the fourth round of the Australian Open courtesy of a 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 win over Grigor Dimitrov.
The third seed needed 160 minutes to see off Dimitrov, recovering from a loss of rhythm in the second set to get the job done in four sets, racking up his 300th grand slam win, the first man to achieve the feat.
The man dubbed ‘Baby Fed’ showed moments of class that Federer himself would have been proud of, but as has so often been the case during the Bulgarian’s career, he drifted in and out of the match, producing moments of brilliance rather than a consistent effort.
Federer had won all four of the pair’s previous match-ups, and it seemed that Friday’s game would be one of his more straightforward assignments.
After a brief delay to close the roof when rain returned to Melbourne Park just one game into the match, Dimitrov had to hit his way out of some trouble early on.
Federer stepped ahead in the seventh game though, claiming the break to go 4-3 up. The Swiss had chances to take the set at 5-3, but Dimitrov made him serve it out and Federer eventually did so at the sixth time of asking.
The world number three had relied on a strong serve and good net play to take the first set, but he dropped off on both scores in the second set.
A more aggressive Dimitrov forced Federer into more errors and he grabbed his reward in the third game, when he raced out to 0-40 on the Federer serve and converted his first break point.
Federer had his chance to break back in the seventh game, but was unable to make the most of the two chances that came his way. The 27th seed carved out three set points and capitalised on the second when a Federer forehand went wide.
The question was could Dimitrov sustain this form? The answer, as it turned out, was ‘no’.
While Federer was under some pressure in his opening service game of the third set, he was able to do the same – and more – in Dimitrov’s first service game, moving to 0-40 before converting his second break point.
A loose game from Dimitrov handed Federer a second break, and while the 24-year-old had two chances to break back he was unsuccessful and Federer took the set 6-1.
Dimitrov called for the trainer for some treatment to his right bicep at the end of the set, and whether it was his injury or his state of mind that was the problem, he was not able to threaten Federer in the fourth set.
Federer brought his first serve back to the level it was at in the first set and took the early chance that came his way to go 3-0 up.
Dimitrov hung on and looked to go after everything, but it was an unsuccessful ploy as a fierce forehand saw Federer seal the set 6-4 and with it the match.
Federer will play David Goffin of Belgium in the fourth round.
Catch all the action of the Australian Open from now until January 31st LIVE and EXCLUSIVE on FOX Sports and FOX Sports 2. FOX Sports subscribers can watch all matches free on FOX Sports Play or on www.FoxSportsAsia.com