Federer, Monfils Roll In Dubai Openers
Swiss could meet Murray and Wawrinka this week
Roger Federer's quest for an eighth Dubai title could hardly have started better on Monday at the Aviation Club. The third seed raced past Frenchman Benoit Paire, winning their first-round contest 6-1, 6-3 in 54 minutes at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.
It was Federer's first match since winning the Australian Open last month, his 18th Grand Slam title. But the 35-year-old Swiss showed no rust in the rout, winning nearly 70 per cent of his service points and saving all three break points faced. Federer broke Paire twice in the first set as the Frenchman struggled to stay in rallies. The Swiss broke twice more in the second set to earn his fourth win in as many tries against Paire during their FedEx ATP Head2Head series.
“I think I returned very well for a first round. I was able to get my second serves in deep, was able to go into the offensive quickly,” Federer said. “Didn't have to move that much. It was very quick rallies. So we'll see how that's going to turn out. But obviously couldn't be a better first round for me here in Dubai.”
Federer will meet a Russian in the second round, either veteran Mikhail Youzhny or qualifier Evgeny Donskoy. The seven-time Dubai champion is making his 13th appearance at the ATP World Tour 500 event. He improves to 48-5 at the tournament with the win against Paire.
“I have played here for so many years, seen the tournament grow,” Federer said. “Fans and myself know how special it is for me to be back on the court. It was a nice welcome. Very thankful always.”
He faces a tough road from here, though. Top seed Andy Murray and second seed and defending champion Stan Wawrinka could meet Federer in the semi-finals and final, respectively.
Fourth seed Gael Monfils also advanced in straight sets on Monday, dismissing Egyptian wild card Mohamed Safwat 6-4, 6-3 in 80 minutes. “You always expect a tough match, but I wasn't expecting that he had so much power with his forehand. His forehand was super fast and deep, wasn't missing that much,” Monfils said.
The Frenchman is playing in Dubai for only the second time. He fell in the first round in 2008. He will meet Brit Daniel Evans or German Dustin Brown in the second round.
Philipp Kohlschreiber moved to within two match wins of the 400th victory of his career on Monday by beating eighth seed and last month’s Apia International Sydney titlist Gilles Muller 6-4, 7-6(1). “Hopefully I can achieve the mark here in this tournament,” said Kohlschreiber, who now has 398 match wins. “It would be great [and] mean I'm in the semi-finals.” He will next face #NextGenATP Daniil Medvedev or wild card Omar Alawadhi.
Three Spaniards – sixth seed Roberto Bautista Agut, Marcel Granollers and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez – all advanced to the second round during the afternoon session.
Bautista Agut overcame #NextGenATP Russian Karen Khachanov 6-1, 7-6(4) in 85 minutes, while Granollers lost just three of his first service points in beating Jiri Vesely 6-3, 6-2 for a second-round clash against Wawrinka or Damir Dzumhur. Garcia-Lopez defeated Viktor Troicki 6-4, 6-3 in one hour and 34 minutes.
Doubles Seeds Safely Through To QFs
Top seeds and ATP Finals titlists Henri Kontinen and John Peers lost just two of their service points in cruising past Alawadhi and Amirvala Madanchi 6-1, 6-1 in 37 minutes for a place in the quarter-finals. Fourth seeds and 2015 semi-finalists Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau overcame Mate Pavic and Alexander Peya 7-6(2), 6-1 in 64 minutes.