MELBOURNE (Reuters) - A rampaging Roger Federer kicked off his 17th Australian Open campaign with a 6-2 6-1 6-2 demolition of Georgian battler Nikoloz Basilashvili to reach the second round on Monday.
On a day when match-fixing allegations cast a pall over the tournament’s opening matches, the purity of Federer’s game shone through in a floodlit Rod Laver Arena as the Swiss master put on a masterclass of clean hitting.
Spared the sweltering conditions of the day session, Federer barely raised a sweat in hammering Basilashvili, sending 31 winners whistling past the 117th-ranked Georgian.
Having battled a flu during his run to the final of the Brisbane International, the 34-year-old, a winner of four Australian Open titles, was grateful to save his energy for more taxing encounters ahead.
“I’m really pleased how I was able to play. Definitely gives me a bit of a lift in confidence, you know, because this year I haven’t been able to play properly yet,” Federer told reporters.
“I mean, I had some decent matches in Brisbane, but it was all under sort of a cloud knowing that I wasn’t 100 percent.
“But this was a match where I was able to focus on my game, on tactics, all that stuff. So it was nice to play that way.”
Federer’s only wobble came early, when he surrendered serve in the sixth game of the first set, but he responded by winning six straight games to leave the Georgian reeling.
The third seed preserved his perfect record of surviving the opening round at the year’s first grand slam but faces a stiffer test against 35th-ranked Alexandr Dolgopolov, a hard-hitting Ukrainian with two tour titles.
“I think it’s going to be very tough, to be honest,” said Federer, who practised with the mercurial 27-year-old in the off-season in Dubai.
“He’s got the fitness, the power, the speed, tennis IQ, all that.”
Editing by Justin Palmer