Melbourne, Jan 23: Roger Federer will have no time for ceremony when he walks out for his 1,000th match on Tuesday, with dangerman Juan Martin del Potro posing his first real test of the Australian Open.
While all the focus has been on the likes of Federer, Rafael Nadal and world number one Novak Djokovic, Argentina's del Potro has received little attention as he moved stealthily into the Melbourne quarterfinals.
But Federer, who has cruised effortlessly through to the last eight, is well aware of the firepower of del Potro, still only 23.
They clashed in the 2009 Australian Open quarterfinals, when Federer dealt the Argentine his worst Grand Slam defeat 6-3, 6-0, 6-0, but del Potro memorably edged the Swiss in a five-set epic in that year's US Open final.
Del Potro missed most of 2010 after wrist surgery but returned to action last year and was named the ATP's comeback player of the year, following his rise from a low of 485 to 11 in the rankings.
"I think it's going to be a good match. Look, I think he's coming back awfully strong again," Federer said.
"I was sad to see that he was out for so long after his amazing year in 2009... and I thought he had a chance in 2010 to sort of make a run for world number one.
"Injury came and things obviously changed, and now he's had to have a great year to get back in the top 15, I think, and now he's making his move to the top 10."
Del Potro, who reached a career-high ranking of number four, says the "best player in history" is the favourite in the quarterfinals.
"I remember three years ago I played the quarters against him and I only won three games," he said. "So if this time is something different and I win more games it's going to be OK for me."
Federer said he would leave emotions aside for his 1,000th tour-level match, but he admitted it would be a special occasion to join the likes of tennis legends Jimmy Connors, Ivan Lendl and John McEnroe, who all reached the mark.
"I have had some tough losses over the years but I've also had some of the most incredible feelings out there," said the 16-time Grand Slam champion.
"I never thought as a kid I would ever cry after I won matches, because I always used to cry after I lost every single match when I was sort of from eight to basically 15," Federer said.
"But then I had so much success and I could relive those memories. It was really nice, and that I'm still fit and healthy and eager to play and hungry, it's great," he added.
"Obviously for me it's just another match, but I know it's special in some ways. I will try to make the best of it, I guess."