Roger Federer showed off his winning pedigree Monday at the Dubai Tennis Championships in a 6—1, 6-4 first-round rout of Benjamin Becker, which took just 62 minutes.
The fourth-seeded Swiss was impeccable in his destruction of the German as Federer won his 38th match at the Emirate where he maintains a training base. He improved to 4-0 over Becker, the ATP number 93, in a win that included a crowd-pleasing, between-the-legs return.
“It’s rare for me to win that point with the lob in that circumstance,” Federer said. “I know I can hit it, but it’s always exciting, and the fans enjoyed it, which is almost as important as the winning point.” Federer will await a second-round opponent from a match between Czech Radek Stepanek and American Michael Russell.
The Swiss maintained a near-perfect early record at the event after losing his only first-round Dubai match six years ago against Andy Murray.
“In the first round, you don’t know what to expect,” Federer said. “I hit some good shots and played the attacking-style tennis that I wanted to play.” Federer dominated the opening set against Becker, claiming it in 21 minutes with a break for 2-0 on a German double-fault and a second break for 5-1 before closing it out a game later with 11 winners.
The second set was tighter, taking twice as long. Federer broke in the seventh game but had to work his way out of a tiny spot of trouble in the final game, missing on his first two match points and forced to save a break point.
The seed finished the job on his third opportunity as Becker netted a service return and Federer advanced at his 11th appearance at the tournament.
“Benjamin has been doing a lot of travelling back and forth - Australia, Europe, America, back to Dubai, back for Indian Wells and Miami,” Federer said. “You’ve got to take advantage of that. I’ve been here for some time. I had a good preparation.” Philipp Kohlschreiber, the seventh seed, earned a German victory as he beat Thiemo de Bakker 6-3, 6-2 while Russian eighth seed Dmitry Tursunov sent over eight aces in a 7-5, 6-1 defeat of Slovak qualifier Lukas Lacko.
Tursunov, ranked 28th, is playing the desert event for the fourth time with a 2013 quarter-final his best career showing.
The Russian spoiled the debut of Lacko at an event where top seed, Novak Djokovic, will be playing for the first time since losing an Australian Open semi-final more than a month ago.
Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut beat Romanian qualifier Adrian Ungur 6-1, 6-3 and will face the winner of Tuesday’s Djokovic-Denis Istomin match. Italy’s Andreas Seppi reached the second round with a comeback win against German Florian Mayer 4-6, 6-1, 7-5.