Roger Federer began his campaign for a record sixth Dubai Championships title with a 6-1, 6-4, win over Benjamin Becker of Germany on Monday.
“I’m extremely happy with today’s match,” Federer said. “Coming out and playing free tennis like that right off the bat is a good feeling.”
The eighth-ranked Federer has never dropped a set to the 93rd-ranked Becker in four matches.
Federer and top-seeded Novak Djokovic, who was to play his first match yesterday, have won nine of the past 11 titles in Dubai.
Federer won the trophy in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2012. Djokovic, the defending champion, won four times, with Rafael Nadal winning in 2006 and Andy Roddick in 2008.
Federer raced through the first set against Becker in 22 minutes.
“Things can run away very quickly here,” Federer said.
“If you look at the winner list from here, it’s guys who play well on [fast] grass courts. It’s worth it to go for your shots and you feel like risky tennis will be rewarded,” he said.
In the second set, Becker challenged better by playing himself into points.
Federer faced a break point in the final game, which went to deuce twice, but he managed to close it out.
Seventh seed Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany won his opening match 6-3, 6-3 over Dutch qualifier Thiemo De Bakker.
Kohlscreiber led 6-3, 5-0 when he lost three games in a row before serving out.
Eighth-seeded Dmitry Tursunov of Russia was a 7-5, 6-1 winner over 101st-ranked qualifier Lukas Lacko of Slovakia.
Andreas Seppi of Italy beat Florian Mayer of Germany 4-6, 6-1, 7-5 from 4-1 down in the third set.
“I just tried to keep fighting,” Seppi said. “I didn’t have so many matches under my belt this year. He gave me some chances to come back.”
The victory was only the second for Seppi this year. His only other match win was beating Lleyton Hewitt in five sets in the Australian Open first round.
AP, SAO PAULO, Brazil
Wild-card Joao Souza of Brazil claimed an upset 7-5, 6-4 win over fifth-seeded Robin Haase of the Netherlands on Monday in the first round of the clay-court Brazil Open.
Souza broke Haase late in each set, serving to close out the match for his first win of the year. Haase, ranked 45th, had four chances to break the Brazilian’s serve, but couldn’t capitalize on them.
Seventh-seeded Leonardo Mayer was also eliminated, after fellow Argentine Guido Pella beat him 7-6 (7/4), 6-7 (3/7), 7-6 (7/4) in 2 hours, 37 minutes at the event won by Rafael Nadal last year.
Mayer, served 11 aces and had five break opportunities in the final set, while Pella had one, but each player broke each other only once. Tommy Hass of Germany is the tournament’s top seed.