In one sense, Roger Federer was a contender prior to the start of the 2017 Australian Open because any 17-time major champion has to be given a chance to win any tournament he or she enters. On the other hand, Roger Federer was certainly not match tough entering this event. Hopman Cup is not rigorous so many questions surrounded the former 4-time Australian Champion ahead of Melbourne. Roger has played 3 matches winning 9 of 10 sets including a straight set victory over Tomas Berdych. So this raises the question of how close Roger is to being in the top tier of threats for this title.
Devil’s Advocate – The Draw is a Problem for the Next 4 Rounds
Roger Federer is playing well, but his draw does him no favors from here forward. Playing 2 qualifiers to open the event was a nice opportunity for Roger to knock away any rust. Kei Nishikori is a formidable obstacle for Roger Federer in the round of 16. Andy Murray likely awaits if Federer reaches the quarterfinal.
Angel’s Advocate – Federer Played Quite Well Last Year in Oz
Roger Federer hurt his knee right around this time last year. He pushed Djokovic in the 3rd and 4th sets of their semifinal last year after being blitzed in the first two sets. A semi-close 4 set loss in 2016 may not be terribly exciting, but Andy Murray was not nearly as close in the final. If Roger is rested physically and reinvigorated mentally, why can’t he beat Nishikori and Murray to reach the semifinal round yet again?
With Novak Djokovic’s loss and Andy Murray’s torrid end to 2016, Andy Murray is the sole occupant of the top tier of contenders in Australia. Roger Federer’s solid performance through 3 matches and great history as a champion firmly place him in the second tier of remaining players. I think he opened the event in the third or fourth tier because many questions needed to be answered. Thus far, he has answered them well, but bigger questions loom in front of him.