Federer produces vintage display to ease into Australian Open second round

andrew hendrie:

Roger Federer delivered a masterclass on Rod Laver Arena to kick off his Australian Open campaign on Monday, crushing Steve Johnson in straight sets to advance into the second round.

Playing under the roof due to rain, Federer was clinical and comprehensive as he raced through the opening round, posting a 6-3 6-2 6-2 scoreline in just 81 minutes.

It was vintage Federer, with the six-time Australian Open champion improving to a flawless 21-0 in first round matches at Melbourne Park. The Swiss broke the record for most Australian Open appearances in men’s singles by stepping out onto court against Johnson.

After the win, Federer took a trip down memory lane with Jim Courier in his on-court interview.

“I remember coming here for juniors in 1998 and then played qualies in the following year. I remember beating Michael Chang in my first main draw here [in 2000],” Federer said.

“That was fun. Now he’s coaching against me [with Kei Nishikori], but we’re good friends because my kids are friends with his kids.”

Federer was playing his first official match since the ATP Finals in London in November after withdrawing from the ATP Cup during the opening week of the season.

Roger Federer (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

Having jetted off on a South American exhibition tour with Alexander Zverev in December, the 37-year-old said he was well-rested and ready for another tilt at Australian Open glory.

“I am so happy I didn’t have any setbacks,” he said.

“Almost [every] off-season I have never had a setback and that sets me up nicely for the season. Regardless of how it goes here, you know you have that [training] block in you. I am happy I played well. I practiced really well.”

Federer is hoping for a deeper Australian Open run than his last visit in 2019 after he was eliminated in the fourth round by rising star Stefanos Tsitsipas.

While Federer cruised into a second round clash with either Filip Krajinovic or Quentin Halys, there was no such luck for 13th seed Denis Shapovalov, who was bundled out in four sets by Marton Fucsovics.

Shapovalov, the 13th seed, was frustrated throughout the encounter by an inspired Fucsovics, who’s level of play never dipped over the course of the four sets, with the Hungarian prevailing 6-3 6-7(7) 6-1 7-6(3).

Borna Coric, seeded 25th, also suffered a first round loss, never threatening in a lacklustre 6-3 6-3 6-4 defeat to the big-serving Sam Querrey.