Monday, February 27, 2017

Roger Federer rolls past the first round in Dubai

Roger Federer's quest for an eighth Dubai title could hardly have started better on Monday at the Aviation Club. The third seed raced past Frenchman Benoit Paire, winning their first-round contest 6-1, 6-3 in 54 minutes at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

It was Federer's first match since winning the Australian Open last month, his 18th Grand Slam title. But the 35-year-old Swiss showed no rust in the rout, winning nearly 70 per cent of his service points and saving all three break points faced. Federer broke Paire twice in the first set as the Frenchman struggled to stay in rallies. The Swiss broke twice more in the second set to earn his fourth win in as many tries against Paire during their FedEx ATP Head2Head series.

“I think I returned very well for a first round. I was able to get my second serves in deep, was able to go into the offensive quickly,” Federer said. “Didn't have to move that much. It was very quick rallies. So we'll see how that's going to turn out. But obviously couldn't be a better first round for me here in Dubai.”

Federer will meet a Russian in the second round, either veteran Mikhail Youzhny or qualifier Evgeny Donskoy. The seven-time Dubai champion is making his 13th appearance at the ATP World Tour 500 event. He improves to 48-5 at the tournament with the win against Paire.

“I have played here for so many years, seen the tournament grow,” Federer said. “Fans and myself know how special it is for me to be back on the court. It was a nice welcome. Very thankful always.”

He faces a tough road from here, though. Top seed Andy Murray and second seed and defending champion Stan Wawrinka could meet Federer in the semi-finals and final, respectively.

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