MELBOURNE, Australia, January 18 – Four-time champion Roger Federer was awarded a walkover in the Australian Open’s second round Wednesday when his opponent, Germany’s Andreas Beck, withdrew with a lower back injury.
The third seed from Switzerland will face a third-round match against either Croatia’s Ivo Karlovic or Argentine Carlos Berlocq, who play later.
The withdrawal means Federer, who suffered back spasms earlier this month, will have had just 98 minutes’ playing time in reaching the last 32.
Federer, who holds the all-time record with 16 grand slam wins, is bidding to become only the second man along with Roy Emerson to win five or more Australian Opens.
Federer, who won his last grand slam title in Melbourne in 2010, could also end up overtaking Jimmy Connors’s record of most open-era grand slam matches (233) if he reaches this year’s final.
The Swiss great, competing in his 49th consecutive major, is the oldest of the men’s top four at 30 but his durability always makes him dangerous in the second week of a major tournament.
Federer finished last year strongly, winning three straight tournaments and finished 2011 on a 17-match winning streak.
Last season, Federer missed out on a grand slam victory for the first time in 10 years as world number one Novak Djokovic dominated, winning three of the four majors.