Roger Federer punished Italy’s Andreas Seppi 6-3, 6-3 in 61 minutes to flex his muscles on the way to the quarterfinals of the Swiss Indoors.
It was a workman-like performance from the world number 1, winner of his last 17 matches in his home stadium and champion at the last three editions.
Seppi now stands 0-6 in the series against the Swiss, never having won as much as a set and losing four times to Federer in 2009.
“I’m refreshed after my (six-week) break, I hope it pays off,” said the 15-time Grand Slam champion. “I’m off to a good start for sure in Basle.
“It was a straightforward match, similar to my first round. But tonight I had to save break points, it was a bit tougher.
“I was able to raise my game when I needed to, it was a good performance.” Veteran Czech Radek Stepanek took his place in the quarters as he defeated Frenchman Florent Serra 3-6, 7-6 (7-1), 7-6 (7-1). Last weekend’s Vienna finalist Marin Cilic, the fourth seed, secured a 6-4, 6-4 win over German Philipp Petzschner to reach the second round and keep long-odds hopes alive for one of the last two spots in the year-end finals.
Croatian Cilic will need to win Basle to start, a particularly difficult task thanks to the presence of Federer, ready to scorch through the remainder of the season after taking six weeks off after September’s Davis Cup.
Cilic trails provisional 12th in the race to the London World Tour Finals, with more than 800 points to make up on Fernando Verdasco, standing eighth.
“I will have to play some unbelievable tennis over the next weeks,” admitted Cilic, after losing the Vienna final to Jurgen Melzer.
Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka, the number six, shook off a shoulder problem in his defeat of Ivan Ljubicic, last week’s Lyon champion, 6-7 (5-7), 6-3, 6-4.
Seventh seed James Blake failed to impress in his first European indoor event of what could be a brief end-of-season, with the former Top 10 player eliminated 7-6 (7-4), 6-7 (6-8), 6-4 by Jeremy Chardy.
“He served well and I didn’t do my job of putting pressure on his serve,” said the disappointed Blake after getting on the receiving end of 24 aces. “That made a big difference. “If you don’t do that, you have a tough time putting any pressure.
I had one lapse early in the third set and he took advantage. He didn’t let up on his serve at all during the match.” The 29-year-old looks to be having a tough time settling in with new coach Kelly Jones after three events, after the new mentor replaced his long-time coach (since age 12) following the US Open.
Blake is languishing outside the ATP Top 40 for the first time in more than five years. He is now the number four American behind Andy Roddick, Sam Querrey and 40th-ranked John Isner after standing long-time second.
Richard Gasquet added a second French win on the day as he put out Horacio Zeballos 7-6 (7-3), 6-4 to next play either former champion and third seed Fernando Gonzalez or American Isner, making his Basle debut.