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Defending champion Roger Federer started his bid for a record seventh Australian Open trophy — and the 100th title of his career — on Monday with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 victory over Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan.
Federer was solid on serve, winning 83 per cent of his first deliveries, and struck 52 winners, including 14 aces to complete victory in one hour and 57 minutes. The third seed broke serve once in each set — in the fourth game of the first set, the third game of the second set and the sixth game of the third set. He extends his perfect record to 7-0 against Istomin, who is on a five-match losing streak at the major championships.
"I think I was hitting the ball pretty well," said Federer. "I think I protected my serve well, didn't allow Denis really to get into my service games very often. I was always in the lead, as well. Obviously that helps [as] I can free swing maybe a little bit more. At the same time I think I have to do some defence, some offence. It was a bit of everything. But I'm very happy with my first round. It's been great. Felt the ball really good."
The Swiss superstar will now prepare to meet Briton Daniel Evans, who knocked out fellow qualifier Tatsuma Ito of Japan 7-5, 6-1, 7-6(8) in two hours and 35 minutes. “It’s a good opportunity,” said Evans. “I played him at Wimbledon before. It's not very often you get to play Roger on a pretty big court, I'm guessing. I look forward to it.”
Federer, who played Evans on Centre Court in 2016, said, "I remember playing well... He's got all the shots. Likes to take chances, takes the ball early. It's nice to see him back on the tour as well. I'm happy for him that he won his first round."
Federer is currently tied on six crowns for most titles at the Australian championships with World No. 1 Novak Djokovic and Roy Emerson. He is hoping to become the second man — after Jimmy Connors(106) — to win 109-plus tour-level singles titles in the Open Era (since April 1968).
"I think I can be happy how I got out of the blocks from the off-season," said Federer. "I think I started to feel that midway through the first set already that it was going to be difficult for Denis to get into my service games. That relaxes you from the baseline. Then good things really happen."
Did You Know?
Roger Federer has now advanced to at least the second round in all 20 of his appearances at the Australian Open. The 37-year-old's last loss in the opening round at a major championship came at Roland Garros in 2003. He has since played at 59 Grand Slams.