Roger Federer and Bernard Tomic have reached a respectable truce after three days trading verbal volleys at the Australian Open.
After upsetting Tomic – who idolises the great Swiss – and prompting a tit-for-tat “Roger’s nowhere near Novak” response, Federer on Tuesday admitted he hadn’t given the Australian No.1 enough credit for his rankings rise in 2015.
But Federer said he’d been taken “out of context” since offering his assessment after Tomic insisted at this month’s Brisbane International he was targeting the top 15 after soaring from 56 to 18 last season.
“When I walked out of the press room I thought I was somewhat tough, but at the same time I was fair because I said nice things about him,” Federer said after seeing off Tomas Berdych to reach his 12th Australian Open quarter-final in 13 years.
“But then I checked his ranking. I didn’t know his ranking was as high as it was, to be quite honest.
“That was my bad.”
Federer, though, stands by his call that it’s high time the 23-year-old Tomic delivered on his seemingly annual promise to crack the top 10 – and stay there.
“It’s a big difference – top 10 for a week or for a year or for multiple years, and getting there is not easy,” said the 17-times grand slam champion.
“It’s a lot of dedication, a lot of hard work.
“There’s a lot of guys who have the potential right now, not just him.”
Federer also cut Nick Kyrgios some slack and said Australian fans should too.
The pair practised together in Switzerland before Kyrgios’ run to the Wimbledon quarter-finals in 2014.
“I was already unbelievably impressed at his sheer power, his talent, his potential,” said Federer.
“It goes way back.
“He’s a great player. I think he’s enjoyable to watch. I know some people might not like it. I like it. He’s got a lot of personality.
“(He) might take it (too) far to some extent, but I think he’s a great player.
“He’s got sick power, and it’s going to take him a long way.
“I just think the next couple of years are going to be so crucial for him.”
Federer, a racquet-smashing tantrum thrower himself early in his career, empathises with Kyrgios, whose image has taken a battering over the past six months.
“I felt very misunderstood many times when I was younger,” he said.
“I felt like I had to put in a lot of work with the press so they first knew who I was so they could relay the messages to the public, the broader public, the right way.
“So in a way I always feel like it’s really interesting and nice to see a youngster grow up in the public eye.
“But then at the same time, you also have the negatives.
“Of course, he’s fighting that a little bit. But I think he’s doing okay.”
Federer said his best advice to Kyrgios would be how important the next couple of years are.
“Just talking about a guy who has talent and potential, I can’t hear it anymore,” he said.
“Too many guys have talent. Too many guys are working hard.”