Fifth set displayed Federer's greatness
Roger Federer blew a two-set lead in the fourth round. But, as Luke Jensen writes, the fifth set told you all you need to know about the world's No. 1 player.
MELBOURNE, Australia -- When the draw came out for the Australian Open, there was a reason people thought Tommy Haas might be able to play with, or even beat, Roger Federer.
In tennis, just like in any other sport, you look at matchups. With the exception of mental toughness, Haas matched up well. He was at one time ranked No. 2 in the world, so you know he has experience. He also came into his fourth-round match on a roll.
Haas walks onto the court thinking he can beat anyone on the planet, including Federer.
After dropping the first two sets, the biggest adjustment Haas made was going from the defensive end of the court to the offensive end.
He hits the ball extremely hard, but if you don't have good location, opponents will be able to counter that. Haas hit the ball deep into the corners with pace, and when you do that, you are going to put even the best players in the world on the run. That's what Haas did in the third and fourth sets and the beginning of the fifth. He really had all the momentum.
But just like that, Federer was able to pull away.
There's a reason Federer is the No. 1 player in the world. He lifted his game, like all great players do, and found something inside to help him win. In the fifth set alone he had 18 winners and six unforced errors. Those are huge numbers, especially in crunch time.
That fifth set tells you a ton about Federer's character and the way he's able to handle a situation without losing his marbles. He'd lost all the momentum but stayed composed and pulled himself together. His body language didn't change much throughout the match, and that's what I like to see.
As a player, when you survive a match like the one Federer just survived, it gives you more confidence. The one bad thing is it makes other players aware that Federer is human and someone can get to him.
However, I don't know if Nikolay Davydenko (Federer's quarterfinal opponent) or anyone else in the draw has the ability that Haas had to raise his game to Roger's level.
Former ATP Tour pro Luke Jensen is providing ESPN.com with analysis during the Australian Open. Jensen, a two-time All-American at USC, captured the 1993 French Open doubles crown with his brother Murphy.