Federer Races Through Basel Opener
Swiss star delights locals in quick win; Gasquet keeps London hopes alive
Top seed Roger Federer began his quest for a seventh title at the Swiss Indoors Basel on Tuesday by beating Mikhail Kukushkin 6-1, 6-2 in 55 minutes.
"I got off to a good start, which was a goal of mine," said Federer, who was coming off an opening-round loss at the Shanghai Rolex Masters. "Once in the lead, I was able to stretch that and keep pressure on my opponent. I'm very pleased for a first round, especially after Shanghai."
Federer raced into a 5-0 lead before wrapping up the 22-minute first set, then broke in the fifth and seventh games of the second set for his 54th match win of 2015. The Swiss lost seven of his first service points and saved two break points in the third game of the pair's third meeting.
Federer, now with a 57-9 match record and 6-5 finals mark in Basel, will next challenge Philipp Kohlschreiber, who overcame 11 aces from Jerzy Janowicz in a 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 victory.
"Clearly, it was an important victory," said Federer. "Losing today wouldn't have been great for my confidence. I feel no effects from losing in Shanghai. I hope this match is a stepping stone to greater things this week. I've played so well over the years here in Basel."
No. 5 seed Richard Gasquet remains in contention for one of two vacant spots at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals following a tight 6-3, 6-7(2), 6-4 first-round win over Jiri Vesely.
Gasquet needed two hours and 11 minutes to overcome the unseeded Czech, saving the only two break points he faced and winning 47 of 55 first-serve points (85 per cent). With Vesely serving to stay in the match down 4-5, 30-40 in the third set, he would surrender only his second break of the night at the most inopportune of times.
Gasquet must win the Basel title this week, then follow with another at the ATP Masters 1000 event in Paris to have any hope of being among the final eight in the Emirates ATP Race to London.
Earlier in the day, Grigor Dimitrov set up a second round clash against third seed Rafael Nadal after he defeated Sergiy Stakhovsky 6-3, 6-4. Nadal has a 6-0 FedEx ATP Head2Head advantage against Dimitrov.
No. 6 seed John Isner exacted revenge for his Round of 16 loss to Ernests Gulbis last week in Vienna with a 6-3, 6-4 win over the Latvian in 65 minutes. Isner fired 19 aces and won 90 per cent (28 of 31) his first-serve points. The 14th-ranked American would finish with 28 winners to 14 unforced errors. Gulbis, No. 82 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, finished with only eight winners to 20 unforced errors.
Eighth seed David Goffin recorded his 35th match win of the year by beating Andreas Seppi 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 in just over two hours.