Friday 24 November 2017

Tennis: Federer gets Aussie title defence off to classy start by routing Lacko

Roger Federer Photo: Getty Images
Roger Federer Photo: Getty Images

Mark Hodgkinson

When Roger Federer met England spinner Graeme Swann backstage at the Australian Open, it was a moot point which of the two would have felt he had more to say to the other about loading a ball with spin, bounce and menace.

Federer is more than capable of making a forehand turn like Swann's off-breaks, and there were a few tricks from the Swiss as he defeated Slovakia's Lukas Lacko on his return to the Rod Laver Arena yesterday, the stadium where he beat Andy Murray in last year's final.

This was a classy performance from the champion as he won 6-1 6-1 6-3 inside an hour and a half.

There always seems to be someone waiting to meet Federer after his matches -- so he must be well practised at small talk -- yet he genuinely has an interest in cricket, through his South African mother.

Federer was aware of the significance of England's success in the Ashes, and spoke warmly to Swann, Kevin Pietersen and others, though, smart PR operative that he is, he was careful not to offend the Australian sporting public by saying anything insensitive about the home nation.

Legend

Pietersen's view of Federer as "an absolute legend" would have been enhanced by the ease with which the Swiss won his opening appearance.

Lacko, who was wearing a neon orange-red shirt, and shoes of the same colour, did not have anything with which to hurt Federer.

Federer would have had more of a workout from when he played a few points against Rafael Nadal in Sunday's 'Rally for Relief' charity fund-raiser than when he dropped just five games against Lacko.

"I saw some talent in him and that's why I was really happy I chose the tactic early on to pressure him," said Federer.

Still, as Federer knows more than anyone, it is important to pace yourself over a Grand Slam fortnight, especially when you know that there are people waiting for you in the locker room or in the lounge.

Federer will play Frenchman Gilles Simon in the second round tomorrow, with Andy Murray due to open his tournament today against Slovakian Karol Beck. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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