Roger Federer on Tuesday charged past his first hurdle in the quest for a lucky seventh title at the Swiss Indoors, with the top seed delivering a crushing 6-1, 6-2 lesson to Mikhail Kukushkin.
Federer set up a second-round contest with good friend Philipp Kohlschreiber, who he has beaten in all 10 of their matches, after the German started with a 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 defeat of Poland’s Jerzy Janowicz.
Last year’s finalist, David Goffin of Belgium, who was hammered by Federer in less than an hour a year ago in the title match, won his opening encounter as he beat Italy’s Andreas Seppi 3-6, 6-4, 6-4.
France’s Richard Gasquet, seeded fifth, kept his slender hopes of a year-end spot in London alive as he beat Jiri Vesely 6-3, 6-7 (2/7), 6-4.
Gasquet would have to win titles at both Basel and the Paris Masters next week to have a chance of making the eight-player field, according to ATP calculations.
Sixth-seeded John Isner of the US needed 64 minutes to put out Ernests Gulbis, sending down 16 aces in a 6-3, 6-4 win. Grigor Dimitrov began erasing a run of recent poor form, as the Bulgarian beat Sergiy Stakhovsky 6-3, 6-4.
Federer’s demolition in front of an appreciative home public at the event where the 17-time Grand Slam winner got his start in the game as a ball boy took only 54 minutes.
“What I did was good, maybe I could have been a bit more efficient on break point chances and tried a few different things that didn’t match up that well with what he was doing, but I moved well, served well and got off to a good start. That was the goal. Once in the lead I was able to stretch that and keep the pressure on him,” the Swiss world No. 3 said.
Federer said that the victory was just the tonic he needed in the wake of an opening-round loss two weeks ago in Shanghai, where he was defending that Masters 1000 title.
“I’m very pleased for a first-round win, especially after Shanghai. To come out and play positive tennis was good fun today,” Federer said.
The top-seeded Swiss is seeking his 10th straight finals appearance at Basel.
He last beat his 64th-ranked Kazakh opponent in the Davis Cup quarter-finals in Geneva a year ago.
“I was seeing the ball as big as a melon,” said the 34-year-old, who has five titles this season. “I’m very happy with this performance, especially to advance so well here at home.”
“This was a very good start for me, an enjoyable match,” he added.
Federer said he cannot take upcoming opponent Kohlschreiber for granted, despite his 100 percent record.
“The next match will be a bigger challenge and a different challenge against Kohlschreiber. He’s got different weapons than Kukushkin,” Federer said. “If you have beaten someone 10 times, there is the possibility that the next time you could have a loss, but having that kind of a record is always good for confidence.”
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