The 36-year-old top seed began his campaign for an eighth title in his hometown, defeating #NextGenATP American Frances Tiafoe for the third time this season, 6-1, 6-3 in 61 minutes.
Federer, who was a ballboy at the indoor event for two years and first played in the tournament as a 16-year-old in qualifying, advanced to 10 consecutive finals from 2006 to 2015, and at one point won five of six championships. His 12 total finals appearances in Basel are the most of any event he has competed in. If he can triumph again, he will capture an ATP World Tour-leading sixth title on the season.
The Swiss was tested by Tiafoe in the opening round of the recent US Open, needing five sets to eliminate the 19-year-old. But on Tuesday he had no such difficulty, breaking four times while not facing a break point himself. He won all of his first-service points to eliminate the teenager.
Federer will next face Frenchman Benoit Paire, who moved past American Steve Johnson, 6-3, 7-6(4) in one hour, 50 minutes. The Swiss has won all four of their Fed Ex ATP Head2Head matchups without dropping a set. The pair’s last meeting came at this year’s Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, where Federer won 6-1, 6-3.