Having the Australian Open's memories still fresh on the retina, the ATP circuit will witness another highly-expected encounter opposing Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. Widely regarded as two of the best tennis players in history, these athletes will cross their swords sooner than expected. This time, it won't be a match with such high stakes, but the mere fact of seeing them competing against each other is stimulating. It's unusual to have such a clash so early in a tournament, but fate seems to have decided in favor of an early thriller.

Federer got past Steve Johnson

In his 3rd round match, Roger Federer had to deal with one of the biggest servers of the professional circuit.

Steve Johnson put in an enormous amount of raw power, but it wasn't enough to crumble the Swiss fortress. It was a blitzkrieg match having both competitors relying on their serve. Johnson's played admirably, but when the decisive moments came up, he sank. Both sets were decided on a tie-break, where Federer kept his composure and drilled holes in Johnson's defense. Eventually, the Swiss came first at the finish line with 7-6(3) 7-6(4) on the scoreboard. Despite a solid response from his opponent, Federer made the right moves not allowing the American to build anything close to a momentum. Without facing break points on his serve, Roger seems to have moved past the shocking upset from Dubai.

Nadal ousted Verdasco

For the no. 1 Spaniard, playing against a fellow countryman and also left-handed like Verdasco acted as a first serious test in the Californian desert. But Verdasco, despite his unquestionable skills, remains a player whose consistency throughout a match is subject to a constant debate.

With Nadal being on top of the game, the outcome came as a natural consequence. It was 6-3 7-5 for the former world no. 1 and Federer will is the one who will ask the question next.

In head to head stats, Nadal is comfortably in front having a 23-12 lead over Federer. Even so, at the Australian Open, Federer proved that stats and numbers barely counts.

He went on winning against Nadal in the 5th set where usually the Spaniard used to be the one with the initiative.

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