Roger Federer’s famed mental strength rescued the top seed from potential danger as the world number one began his Australian Open campaign on Tuesday with a turnaround 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (7-2), 6-0 defeat of Russian Igor Andreev.
The Swiss said he was glad he was playing on the Grand Slam stage with its longer, more demanding match format.
“I just think in the best of five (sets), the mental strength comes into it a lot more.” Federer was unruffled after fighting past the Russian, against whom he now stands 3-0.
“I think I played well even in the first set even if I lost it. I was hoping to hang in, hoping he got tired and started making errors.
I’m really, really relieved that I’m through.
“There were a few hiccups, but I think those are more due to his good play and because of also playing against the wind. So it was a good first round for me anyway.” Federer fought back smartly after losing the opening set on a net cord bounce-out. He snatched back the second and emerged a winner after a roller-coaster third where the lead swapped back and forth.
Russian sixth seed Nikolay Davydenko, who sprinted back to prominence in the closing months of last season, started with an easy passage, 6-1, 6-0, 6-3 over German Dieter Kindlmann.
“Now I feel like I can beat everyone,” said the winner of the London year-end title in November. “Something is different. I knew before that I could win but I was losing easily against these guys — now I can beat everyone. It’s a good feeling.”
Shock exit for Soderling
It was a disastrous day for eight seed Robin Soderling as the Swede lost a huge early lead to fall to Spaniard Marcel Granollers 5-7, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-2.
“I started terrible and finished terrible,” said the disgusted French Open finalist. “I didn’t feel good at all. I don’t know what happened I just didn’t play well.” Spain’s ninth seed Fernando Verdasco staged a comeback over Australian Carsten Ball 6-7 (4-7), 7-6 (7-1), 7-5, 6-2.
French seeds advanced as Jo-Wilfried Tsonga beat Ukrainian Sergiy Stakhovsky 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 and Gael Monfils showed that last week’s healing time for a shoulder injury was sufficient by beating Aussie Matthew Ebden 6-4,6-4, 6-4.
Santoro bids goodbye
Croatian Marin Cilic ended the two-decade career of Frenchman Fabrice Santoro 7-5, 7-5, 6-3.
Lleyton Hewitt got a win for Australia in front of a showcase crowd as he beat Brazilian Ricardo Hocevar, making his first Grand Slam appearance, 6-1, 6-2, 6-3.
In the women’s draw, the Williams sisters ploughed through.
Top seed Serena stormed into the second round over Poland’s Urszula Radwanska 6-2, 6-1, with the winner’s knee heavily strapped.
“I was happy to get through,” said the 11-time Grand Slam champion. “The scoreline seemed to be easy, but it was a match with tough points out there.”
Venus got past Czech Lucie Safarova 6-2, 6-2, while former number one Jelena Jankovic of Serbia won her opener over Monica Niculescu 6-4, 6-0.
Ana Ivanovic, another Serb who is trying to halt a ranking slide, continued her quiet comeback, beating Shenay Perry 6-2, 6-3.