Melbourne: Trying to lob a player who stands 2.08 metres (6-foot-10) is risky at the best of times, let alone on set point, but Roger Federer`s gamble against Ivo Karlovic Friday helped him reach the fourth round of the Australian Open.
Karlovic proved a real handful for the third-seeded Swiss, who struggled to combat the sharp angles the Croat was achieving with his big serve, Federer hanging in and waiting for his chances in the 7-6, 7-5, 6-3 victory.
Federer`s guile and footwork swept him into position to punch returns down the line or back across court which kept him in the match as he took the first set to a tiebreak.
The 16-times grand slam winner looked in trouble when Karlovic had a 6-5 lead and a blooped a volley over the net with Federer scampering to chase it down.
"I didn`t know what to do," Federer said of what happened next as he desperately lunged for the ball. "Probably left and right, going to go too slow and he`s going to slam it home.”
"Let me try the lob, even though that`s not what you`re supposed to do against him.”
"I got sort of the angle right and was able maybe to surprise him, we`re that close to each other, so it`s hard to kind of react quickly maybe (upwards)."
The tactic worked, the 32-year-old Karlovic mistiming his jump and the ball pinging off the top of his racquet.
"It is like one in, I don`t know, a hundred that I`m going to lose that point ... it was really unlucky," Karlovic said.
"I didn`t really expect him to do that, but I was there. I just miscalculated how much on (my) jump. It was really unlucky.”
"Then if I would have won that, everything would have been different. But that is life, you know. Tennis, that`s how it is."
Federer agreed the shot had swung the momentum in his direction.
"It kind of worked, and then I had a great return after that (to set up his own set point). I was almost home. So it was a good turn of events for me then," he added.
"After that, I maybe relaxed a bit. I got a bit of a better read on his serve potentially and just, you know, also knew what I wanted to do also on my own service games.”
"It was a big first set, clearly."
Federer, who had overpowered Russian qualifier Alexander Kudryavtsev in the first round then had a walkover in the second round, felt the Karlovic match had been a good workout.
"I think it was important to face throughout the whole three sets just the pressure of facing a guy like Ivo who can serve his way out of trouble, keeps you on your heels the whole time," Federer said.
"I think that was a good thing. Overall I feel good. It`s been a good match for me and a good last week."
The 30-year-old is now scheduled to meet the winner of the match between Australian teen-ager Bernard Tomic and 13th-seeded Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov in the fourth round and Federer said he would be a keen spectator later Friday.
"I`ll follow it as much as I can, because both are quite particular," he said. "I`ve only played Bernard and Alexandr once each, I think, so I don`t know them that well.”
"It`s going to be a good match to watch. Either player is going to be a challenge for me."