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Roger Federer: Thought I was fair to Bernard Tomic, but didn't know rank

MELBOURNE, Australia -- Shortly after reaching the Australian Open semifinals, Roger Federer offered an explanation for his recent verbal spat with Bernard Tomic.

"I said a lot of things in Brisbane, you know," Federer said Tuesday. "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, might be frustrated, and then he goes even further."

Earlier this season, when asked to assess the 17th-ranked Aussie, Federer told the media in Brisbane that Tomic had perhaps missed his opportunity to live up to his potential.

"He's been struggling to show [his talent], to be quite honest," Federer said at the time. "Many seasons now in a row we have seen or heard that top 10 is the goal, and he's missed out on it by a long shot."

The barbs carried over into the Australian Open. After his third-round victory, Tomic expressed his frustration when informed of Federer's comments.

"Yeah, well, he has his predictions," Tomic said. "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."

Two days later, after a hard-fought loss to Andy Murray, a more composed Tomic explained his initial sentiments.

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

On Tuesday, Federer conceded that perhaps he did not have all his facts straight.

"You know, I'd like to see anybody succeed and anybody make their move," Federer said. "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."

As for Tomic, he seems to finally be focused more on tennis than outside distractions.

In his most recent incident, he caused a scene as a result of a $20 court fee at a Gold Coast resort in Brisbane.

Last July, Tomic was arrested in Miami after a late-night party on charges of trespassing and resisting arrest. Just two weeks before that, following a straight-sets loss against Djokovic at Wimbledon, Tomic went on an extraordinary diatribe directed at Tennis Australia, notably director of performance Patrick Rafter, for its lack of support.