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Roger Federer was all smiles on Monday as he beat Steve Johnson for a place in the Australian Open second round.

Federer: 'I'm Not An Artist Or A Musician'

Swiss superstar has not lost in the first round of a Grand Slam since 2003 Roland Garros

Six-time former Australian Open champion Roger Federer believes understanding what you’ve been told is the key to improving as a tennis player.

“Understanding the message correctly, I think is a key element to improve, and also maybe sometimes questioning the person who's telling you the things, so you really understand what they mean,” said Federer, after his opening win against American Steve Johnson at the Australian Open.

“I'm not an artist or a musician, by any stretch… In a message you can always pick the things you like and then apply them. Even if it's wrong, you think, ‘Wow, that's how I understood it.’

“At the end of the day, [it’s about] old-school work ethic. There is nothing wrong with that. I do believe if you're in a slump, not feeling well, whatever it may be, knowing how to train hard, when to train hard, with who to train hard, there is nothing wrong when it goes to those things.

“[Also] learning from your mistakes is key, as we remember our losses more than our wins. It's just important that when you do lose, you really make the most of it, because it's actually an opportunity.”

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Federer, who beat Johnson 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 on Monday afternoon for his 98th match win in Melbourne, has not lost in the first round of a major championship since 2003 Roland Garros (l. to Horna), one month prior to the winning first of his 20 Grand Slam crowns.

When asked what may be the reason, Federer admitted: “Some [first round matches] were close, let's be honest. There are a few that pop up in my mind right away. [But] I think also I became a better player. Thirty-two seeds helped to keep more of those better-ranked players away, as when I came up on Tour there was only 16 seeds and all that.

"Then, I guess, I created a game which allowed me to manage maybe all kinds of opponents that were ranked outside of the Top 30 in a first round… I'm happy that I was able to manage those first rounds. As we know, they can always be very tricky. That's why [ATP] Masters 1000 events are tough sometimes. You can play a Top 20 player in the first round and that's when it gets tough.”

The 38-year-old Swiss superstar hit 34 winners, including 11 aces, in his first victory of the 2020 season, beating Johnson in 81 minutes on Rod Laver Arena.

“I think, for me, really, the first three rounds are key to get going, to get used to the pressure, stay calm, when to save break point or 30/30 points… or just to stay calm if you're down a set and a break or whatever it might be. This is sort of the unknown that can be a little bit scary at times.

“But today there was none of that, because I broke early each set and was able to get on a roll, play freely after that. And also, I felt I had margin. Anything I was doing I felt like I had the game under control. That might not be the case in the next round, so I just think I have to be careful. Round-by-round, point-for-point mentality. I know other guys that are playing extremely well right now so I think it's just important to stay very calm about things right now.”

Federer, with a 98-14 match record at Melbourne Park, will next take on Serbian Filip Krajinovic or French qualifier Quentin Halys in the second round.

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