At times the tennis produced by the wonderful Roger Federer and Grigor Dimitrov was enough to have a sparse crowd inside the Rod Laver Arena spellbound. A flurry of backhand exchanges, lengthy rallies and intricate shot-making provided a thrilling contest in the day session's last match, but in the end the Swiss had too much for Dimitrov as he battled to a four sets win.
The master still too good for the student
It is well known that Grigor Dimitrov's game mirrors that almost exactly of the seventeen times grand slam champion. Almost. Whilst Roger Federer continues to cruise past opponents with regularity even when he should be in his twilight years, the Bulgarian has endured a painful few years, falling from a genuine grand slam outsider to just inside the world's top 30.
Having beaten him in four out of four meetings to the loss of only one set, not many would have expected anything other than a Roger Federer win and an easy one at that. However, for the first two sets of the match, it was anything but.
Throughout the match the players would frequently descend into lengthy exchanges at the baseline which would bind the crowd into a trance, simply mesmerised by the quality of the tennis on show. Both players possess two of the most beautiful, and similar, one-handed backhands in the game and they weren't afraid to show it.
It would be Federer who take the early ascendency as he had too much for Dimitrov to handle in the first set, taking it with a break, his only one from five, and already looking like cruising to a straight sets win.
But Dimitrov would have other ideas as he sprinted out of the blocks in the second set and carefully snatched the upperhand. Whilst both players would have their chances to break, Dimitrov would be the only one who took his chance ands suddenly the match was level at one apiece.
Injury derails thoughts of a fightback
Sadly for Dimitrov, that would be as good as it would get and an injury timeout at the end of the second set seemed to merely hammer the first nail into his coffin. From then on, there only looked like one winner as Federer upped his game and the Bulgarian's faltered under the pressure of his injury.
Federer romped to the third set in next to no time and although the fourth would prove a far closer affair, with Dimitrov having the chance to break Federer, in the end his opponent's class won out.
Sealing a 6-4 3-6 6-1 6-4 win with a wonderful forehand which flew past Dimitrov, Federer looked delighted at having made the fourth round of the Australian Open for the thirteenth time. In all his years playing down under, he has never made less than the third round, a run stretching back to 2000.
In the process, Federer also became the first man to ever reach 300 grand slam wins in the Open Era, and when he takes on David Goffin, he will be hoping to make it 301.