Melbourne: Roger Federer was given a free ride into the third round of the Australian Open on Wednesday after German Andreas Beck withdrew with injury.
The Swiss, seeded third, was due to play lefthander Beck on Hisense Arena but the 25-year-old was forced to pull out with a lower back problem.
Federer said his opponent had told him of the problem in the locker room.
"He said, `I`m not so good actually. I have a bad back`," Federer told reporters. "It came as a surprise. He said he had a lot painkillers and pain during the last match. I think it happened four, five days ago.
"He doesn`t want to risk it early in the season, best five sets against me.”
"Nothing he could have done, even though he would love to play against me. I guess it`s the only smart decision for him to take."
Federer, targeting a fifth Australian Open title at Melbourne Park, will meet either Croatia`s Ivo Karlovic or Argentine Carlos Berlocq in the third round.
The withdrawal spared Federer a first match away from Rod Laver Arena since he met Jeff Morrison in the second round in 2004.
"I was excited, I wasn`t disappointed to be playing on Hisense to be honest," said Federer, whose subsequent 52 matches taking place on the main show court.
"At Wimbledon and at the French we always go (to) the second court.”
"It`s just here and at the US Open with the night sessions they have ... more space for men`s matches on the center court.”
"But when the draws are such that me and Rafa are in the same section, and you have (Bernard) Tomic, I guess, I expect it to happen.”
"When I saw that Rafa played an Hisense the first day, I expected my second round match was going to be there too.”
"I would have loved to play (and I) feel sorry for the fans who were excited to see me on Hisense today. I was ready to go."
First Published: Wednesday, January 18, 2012, 13:01