Roger Federer off to smooth Dubai start

DUBAI: Roger Federer of Switzerland returns the ball to France’s Benoit Paire during their ATP tennis match as part of the Dubai Duty Free Championships yesterday. – AFP

DUBAI:  Roger Federer took the opening step in his bid for a record eighth title at the Dubai Tennis Championships yesterday with a comprehensive 6-1, 6-3 defeat of Benoit Paire. Federer, playing his first match since winning a record 18th Grand Slam title a month ago in Melbourne over Rafael Nadal, had been unsure of his form after dealing with a leg injury picked up at the Australian Open combined with a month off court after his title triumph.

But he need not have worried as he defeated Paire for the fourth time without a loss with the streaky Frenchman treated on his right ankle and also jeered for tossing a racquet in the second set as he was crashing to defeat.
Federer is playing the event for the 13th time, improving to 48-5 in the emirate where he keeps a training base. Federer won his 11th match since losing to Tomas Berdych in the 2013 semi-finals.

He has yet to lift an eighth title at any event having achieved seven in Dubai, Wimbledon, Basel, Cincinnati and Halle.
“I’m happy with how I played, I was able to stay aggressive,” Federer said as the event began it’s 25th edition. “I couldn’t have had a better first round start.
“I still cannot belive my start to the season.”

Paire had his ankle strapped trailing 4-1 in the opening set and then lost serve as Federer took a 5-1 lead. The third seed wrapped it up after less than 30 minutes with a service winner.
The second set was equally one-way as Federer went through in well under an hour.
Spanish sixth seed Roberto Bautista Agut advanced over Russian hope Karen Khachanov 6-1, 7-6 (7/4) while 2014 semi-finalist Philipp Kohlschreiber moved to within two victories of his 400th career win after he defeated eighth seed Gilles Muller of Luxembourg 6-4, 7-6 (7/1)

“I didn’t know, actually, to achieve my record would be great,” the 33-year-old German said. “It would put me in the semi-finals.
“But I still have a few years to play on the Tour, so I’m pretty confident that I’m gonna make 400-plus, hopefully.”
Spain’s Marcel Granollers put out Czech Jiri Vesely 6-3, 6-2 while Guillermo Garcia-Lopez defeated Serb Viktor Troicki 6-4, 6-3. – AFP

This article was published on 27/02/2017