Melbourne: Roger Federer fought off an aggressive challenge from rising Australian star Bernard Tomic to reach the fourth round at the Australian Open on Saturday.
The 17-time Grand Slam king was stretched at times in a compelling match before coming out on top 6-4, 7-6 (7/5), 6-1 in 1hr 58min on Rod Laver Arena.
Federer, who is chasing his fifth Australian crown, will now face big-serving Canadian 13th seed Milos Raonic in the round of 16 on Monday.
The 31-year-old Swiss great became the first man to win 250 Grand Slam matches in his victory over the 43rd-ranked Tomic and he reached the fourth round in Melbourne for the 12th straight year.
It was a much-improved performance from 20-year-old Tomic, who lost to Federer 6-2, 6-2, 6-4 in the fourth round at last year's Australian Open.
The last time Federer lost in the third round at a Grand Slam was nine years ago, at the 2004 French Open to Brazilian Gustavo Kuerten.
"Overall we both played a great match, Bernard has had a great run and he really got the best out of me tonight, so I hope he can keep it up, I really wish him the best," Federer said.
"You've got to expect the unexpected and Bernard's got the tools to do that. The court was playing a tough faster when we played last year so it allows him to play a bit more aggressive and he's a big guy with a powerful serve."
Federer got off to a flyer breaking Tomic's opening service game to put the pressure squarely on the Australian youngster before a raucous full house at the centre court.
But Tomic dug in and held his serve, even fighting off three set points in the ninth game, before the Swiss legend claimed the opening set on his fourth set point, drilling his serve to the Australian's backhand.
Tomic came more into the contest during a compelling high-quality second set as he began pushing Federer around the court in thrilling rallies.
The Australian fought off three break points in the ninth game and another one in his next service game as the set went to a tiebreaker.
Tomic led 4-1 after an early mini-break before Federer fought back, winning a thrilling 29-stroke rally and then finding the line with a forehand.
Federer clinched a crucial two-sets-to-love lead winning it on his first set point.
The world number two produced a fantastic chase down to win another furious rally and break Tomic's service in the second game of the third set.
Federer began to pull away with another service break to take command of the high-class match but Tomic showed in defeat that he could press for higher honours in the future.