AAP Tennis

Vintage Federer as good as ever: McEnroe

By AAP Newswire

An awestruck John McEnroe believes Roger Federer may be better now than when in his pomp and isn't ruling out the great Swiss winning the Australian Open at 38.

McEnroe could only marvel as Federer wound back the clock to dismantle Filip Krajinovic for the loss of only six games to surge into the third round at Melbourne Park for the 21st straight year.

McEnroe hailed the Swiss's silky shot-making as vintage 2008 and, at one point, said "just shake hands, you've got to be kidding" after the 20-times grand slam champion produced a ridiculous running forehand pass.

The victory set up a Friday showstopper with home hope John Millman, with world No.12 Fabio Fognini the only other seed left in the pair's otherwise depleted quarter of the draw.

Seven-times major winner McEnroe was asked if he felt Federer was better now than when he dominated tennis more than a decade ago.

"I was just thinking about that. Is he better? Does he move better? He can't possibly move better but he could possibly be better," McEnroe said during Nine's commentary.

"He won three out of four, probably three different times (in 2004, 2006 and 2007).

"I don't know if it is a concerted effort or just a match-up or the situation, but definitely he's come into this tournament looking very sharp early, which is a good sign."

McEnroe said he learnt after watching Federer beat Rafael Nadal to win the 2017 Open in his first tournament back following career-saving knee rehab never to write off the ageless master.

"The ultimate for me, because I was coaching Milos Raonic at the time when he beat him in the semis at Wimbledon (in 2016)," McEnroe said.

"He sort of limped off the court, didn't play for six months and I said, 'Surely Roger is not going to win any more majors'.

"He didn't play for six months, no events, and then he wins three five-setters. And wins the thing.

"Like, 'What?' I mean, I know Roger - you're even amazed. I don't even know what to'say when you watch this. He makes it look so easy. It isn't that easy, folks."

Apart from his draw opening up, Federer also hopes to cash in on his preferred faster surface once more in Melbourne as his bids for a record-equalling seventh Open crown and to become the oldest men's major winner in history.

"Night sessions, indoor, all this stuff also slows it down a bit. I think day sessions, in the sun, it will play faster," Federer said.

"I do believe the court is going to speed up also as we are playing on this court throughout the tournament and I hope to be there when it's playing faster as well."

Victory over Millman would give Federer an unprecedented 100th win at the Open.