Roger Federer wasted no time in booking his spot in the third round of the BNP Paribas Open on Sunday evening. In a battle of veteran players on the ATP World Tour, 35-year-old Federer raced past 36-year-old Stephane Robert 6-2, 6-1 in just 51 minutes.
"Very happy. The knee is a thing of the past, which is great. I don't even have to think or talk about it. So I thought the match went really well,” said Federer. “I’m very pleased with how it went. And moving on to the next round, it’s going to be a different matchup, so I’ve got to adjust again.”
Despite the scoreline, Federer was full of praise for Robert playing some of the best tennis of his career at age 36.
“I admire those guys who make the breakthrough later on and find a way and not lose love for the game early,” said Federer. “It’s nice to see him do well now and beginning to play against great players on the big courts. That’s been so motivational for those guys to keep going. All of a sudden, age just becomes a number.”
The Swiss star was in fine form, winning 71 per cent of his service points and converting all five of his break point chances. Victory takes Federer to a 53-11 mark at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, where he has lifted the trophy four times, most recently in 2014 (d. Djokovic).
After being sidelined for the second half of the 2016 season, Federer made a remarkable comeback at the start of this year, beating Stan Wawrinka and Rafael Nadal in back-to-back five-set tussles to clinch his 18th Grand Slam championship at the Australian Open.
There was a surprise for Federer last week, though, in his second tour-level tournament of the year in Dubai, where he was upset by Evgeny Donskoy in the second round. The Basel native looks to bounce back this week, but finds himself in the toughest quarter of the draw, alongside Nadal and Novak Djokovic.
Federer goes on to face 24th seed Steve Johnson, who edged Kevin Anderson 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(4) in two hours and 14 minutes. Federer leads his FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry with Johnson 1-0, defeating the American in straight-sets last year at Wimbledon.