The frictionless progress of the Big Four continued on Thursday night as Roger Federer eased past his unheralded opponent, world No. 79 Dusan Lajovic, in just 1hr 30 minutes
After eight rounds between them, the four leading contenders for the title have dropped a combined total of 53 games – or two-and-a-half per set, to put it another way. Federer’s 7-6, 6-3, 6-2 win on Thursday was actually the least clinical of the lot - in terms of the score, at least. But he never seemed in significant danger, even when taken to a first-set tie-break.
It doesn’t feel as though Federer has hit his stride yet, but then the same was true at January’s Australian Open, where his opening two rounds offered no hint of the glorious level he would achieve against better-known players such as Tomas Berdych and Stan Wawrinka.
The difference is that, in January, we were wondering whether Federer – who had just spent six months out of the game with a troublesome knee injury – was a busted flush.
Now we know that he is capable of tennis from a parallel dimension. His coruscating strokeplay has won him four of the six tournaments he has entered to date in 2017, and has convinced most professional observers that he is playing even better than in his most dominant phase in the mid-Noughties.