Roger Federer wants to make it clear that he respects Bernard Tomic’s game, and his comments that elicited a controversial response from the 23-year-old Australian were taken out of context.

"He's been struggling to show [it], to be quite honest,” Roger Federer said of Tomic earlier this month at the Brisbane International. "Many seasons now in a row we have seen or heard that [the] Top 10 is the goal, and he's missed out on it by a long shot."

Tomic took exception to the 17-time Grand Slam champion’s remarks, and didn’t pull any punches after his third-round win over John Millman at the Australian Open on Saturday.


"Yeah, well, he has his predictions,” Tomic told reporters last week when asked about what Federer had to say about him. “I think he's also far away from [Novak] Djokovic, as well, if he wants to say that. If he believes I'm very far away from the Top 10, I also believe my prediction that he's nowhere near Novak's tennis right now.

“It also motivates me. I'm working for that. When I'm playing well, I'm a Top 8 player in the world. My ranking has to get there. I'm going to work every day this year getting to the Top 10. It's not just getting to the Top 10. I'm going to get there. It's about staying there for a while. It's about being consistent.”

After defeating Tomas Berdych in straight sets on Tuesday to reach the semifinals in Melbourne, Federer attempted to clear the air.

"I said a lot of things in Brisbane, you know," the 34-year-old told reporters. "I guess only a small part got taken out of it. It's a bit out of context, in my opinion. Then you feed it to a player, he reacts. [He] might be frustrated, and then he goes even further. You know, I'd like to see anybody succeed and anybody make their move. Especially to Top 100 first, Top 10, world No. 1.

"If everybody could be that, I wish that for everyone. To be quite honest, 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. But then I checked his ranking. I didn't know his ranking was as high as it was, to be quite honest. I thought he was like 50 or 60, and he was Top 20. That was my bad, to be honest.


"But I don't check the rankings every day. I came from the offseason. I had no clue what was going on anymore. That was my bad. But I still believe it's a big difference—Top 10 for a week or for a year or for multiple years, and getting there is not easy. 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. That's why I think it got brought up in many ways."

Tomic explained to reporters after his fourth-round loss to Andy Murray why he was bothered by what the Swiss legend told the media.


"I just would have liked Roger to say, 'OK, look, he had an amazing 2015,’” Tomic said. “’Went from 70, 80 to being 16.’ He didn't mention it. I just felt like maybe Roger said the wrong thing. I'm working. I went from where I was to 16, 17 in the world. It's an amazing achievement. I'm there. I'm six, seven spots away [from the top 10]."

Federer will play Djokovic in the Australian Open semifinals, in what will be their 45th career meeting. The head-to-head series is tied at 22 matches apiece.

Follow Brad on Twitter @brad_kallet.