Roger Federer was asked about a potential third round match against the streaking Bernard Tomic. Federer's message was clear: hold your horses. Tomic is no guarantee to make the third round.
"He's also got his work cut out, you know, in the first few rounds," Federer said. "He will be making a mistake about thinking about me in the third round because he also has to get there."
Federer went on to caution the extended hype that is currently buzzing around Tomic, who goes into the Australian Open undefeated after wins over Novak Djokovic at the Hopman Cup and capturing his first ATP title in Sydney last week. The 20-year-old seems to have turned himself around after a disastrous 2012.
But Federer isn't quite buying the young Aussie's stock quite yet.
"I think we should go step by step, see how it goes," he said. "Let's speak in a year's time. Everybody wants to jump from what's his ranking 60 to 10 in a year. It's hard to do. Ten is a big ask. Don't forget how tough the top 10 players are right now."
Later that day Tomic came in for his pre-tournament presser. I don't know if he caught wind of Federer's comments or not, but the confident (understatement?) Aussie seemed to take a swipe of his own. Asked whether he thinks he can beat Federer in the third round, Tomic quipped "Well, if he gets that far."
"I mean, like I said, the first round is my goal, to beat this guy. I do struggle against some guys out there. I don't know how this guy can play. If the possibility comes for me to win that first match, I'll look for my next round, which is also tough."
"I would love to get in that position to play Roger in the third round. He has to get there as well. You don't know what can happen. Tennis is a funny sport. So we'll see." Federer opens his tournament on Tuesday against Benoit Paire, while Tomic will take on Leonardo Mayer.