Monday 11 December 2017

Fed express eases back into groove

Nigel Whittaker

ROGER FEDERER was relieved to have come through his first competitive match of 2013 after thrashing Benoit Paire in the opening round of the Australian Open.

Federer, who opted to skip the usual warm-up tournaments and instead played a series of exhibition events in South America, hit the ground running with a 6-2 6-4 6-1 victory in which he was rarely troubled.

"Benoit's a good player, a good talent," Federer said. "It was my first match this season and you're not sure (how you're going to play). That's why you're relieved when you get through the first one.

"I've had a few busy years since I had kids. I just wanted to cool down a bit. It's nice to enjoy the off-season. I hope it's the right decision. We'll see how it goes. I'm confident in my play."

Such was Federer's dominance he admitted he was able to experiment with certain aspects of his game.

"When you're in the lead you feel less pressure and you can try things to see if they work," he said.

Andy Murray also felt he did a "pretty good job" as he beat Robin Haase 6-3 6-1 6-3 to set up a meeting with Portugal's Joao Sousa in temperatures which are expected to reach 39C.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the runner-up here in 2008, is regarded as a threat to the 'big three', and he, too, looked good in seeing off French compatriot Michael Llodra 6-4 7-5 6-2.

Serena Williams suffered an injury scare as she crushed Edina Gallovits-Hall 6-0 6-0. The American, chasing a fifth Australian crown, required lengthy treatment to her right ankle after taking a heavy fall.

Former world No 1 Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark fought back from 3-0 down in the third set to beat German Sabine Lisicki 2-6 6-3 6-3.

• Rafa Nadal will make his long-awaited comeback from injury at next month's Brazil Open. The Mallorcan former world No 1 has been sidelined with a knee injury since last year's Wimbledon tournament.

(© Independent News Service)

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