Roger Federer is 17/10 to be knocked out of the Australian Open at the third-round stage by Tomas Berdych after admitting he will need to raise his game on Thursday night.
Federer felt disappointed after scrapping his way to a 7-5 6-3 7-6 (7/3) victory over America's Noah Rubin in the second round, even though a straight-sets win in just over two hours hardly sounds like cause for dejection.
Federer's fitness and usual finesse both appeared lacking though, against an opponent ranked 200th in the world and playing only the fifth grand slam match of his life.
The 17-time grand slam champion will hope greater rhythm returns with more time spent on court given he now faces a far tougher challenge against world number 10 Berdych.
“I was just not doing what I was trying to do. I was hoping to play better at times,” Federer said.
“Sometimes it's not going to be pretty. Sometimes it's just going to be a fight. Today that's what I thought it was for me. I guess I was hoping to play better offensive tennis and I struggled with that a little bit at times.”
All of which will be music to the ears of Berdych, who has lost his last five meetings with the Swiss but showed impressive efficiency in dispatching American Ryan Harrison earlier on Wednesday.
Federer is still the favourite to go through at odds of 4/9 but he said: “I know I've got to lift my game a little bit. I thought he (Berdych) was going to have a tougher time against Ryan, to be honest, because Ryan has been playing well recently again.
“The court here plays fast and he's caused difficulties for me in the past on faster courts - Cincinnati, New York, Wimbledon, the Olympics in Athens - I know what he's got. I don't need to tell you where he's beaten me.”