Roger Federer, who has slipped to sixth in the ATP rankings, opened his Swiss Indoors campaign with a 6-4, 6-2 first-round win over Adrian Mannarino at his home town of Basel on Monday.
The five-time Basel champion needs to put up superhuman efforts this week, as well as at the upcoming Paris Masters, if he is to secure one of four spots remaining in the eight-man field at the World Tour Finals in London next month.
Federer, seeded third behind holder Juan Martin del Potro and Czech Tomas Berdych, is dueling for the spot at the finals with compatriot and US Open finalist Stanislas Wawrinka, who stands a provisional seventh in the points race, with his famed compatriot a mere five points adrift on eighth.
“I played well enough for a first round,” said Federer, who improved his awesome record in Basel to 48-8.
“I’m entirely confident about my plan. I want to make something happen, I only need for my back [which bothered him in the summer] not to let me down,” he added.
“It’s great be back in Basel, I get so much energy from this crowd. I’m concentrating on playing well and hoping to qualify for London,” Federer said.
The Swiss superstar faces either Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin or Argentina’s Horacio Zeballos in the second round.
The 32-year-old, accorded a warm reception when he walked onto court, lost his service once before taking the first set against his French rival, ranked 62 in the world.
The 17-time Grand Slam winner moved up a gear in the second set, breaking twice, converting four breaks of serve from 13 chances to wrap up the match in 1 hour, 11 minutes.
Federer on Sunday recognized he had made serious errors in his planning, which have contributed to a disastrous year, and he last week split from his longtime coach Paul Anacone.
Having won only one ATP title this year, in Halle, he is at risk of missing out on the World Tour Finals, which he has won six times.
He has insisted that despite his fall from grace, retirement is not on the horizon.
AP, VALENCIA, Spain
Spanish qualifier Roberto Bautista Agut upset eighth-seeded Kevin Anderson of South African 3-6, 7-6 (7/5), 6-3 on Monday in the first round of the Valencia Open.
Anderson finished with 15 aces, but was broken twice in the final set as Bautista Agut wrapped up the win in 2 hours, 26 minutes.
Seventh-seeded Fabio Fognini of Italy avoided a similar set by beating Martin Klizan of Slovenia 7-5, 3-6, 6-0.
Marcel Granollers of Spain advanced when Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia was forced to retire with an injury, while leading 2-1 in the first set. Also, Dmitry Tursunov of Russia eased past Spain’s Albert Montanes 6-4, 6-1.