Roger Federer breezed back into action to reach the second round of the ATP Dubai Open with a straightforward 6-1 6-3 victory over erratic Frenchman Benoit Paire.
In his first match since claiming his 18th Grand Slam title by beating Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open a month ago, the 35-year-old was immediately back in the old routine to give Paire the runaround.
There was precious little resistance from the Frenchman as Federer, the third seed, delighted a packed Centre Court crowd with some flashes of brilliance.
Paire was warned for unsportsmanlike behaviour at one point after hurling his racket and also needed treatment on a foot injury.
Federer claimed victory in less than an hour and seems to still be amazed at how well his return to the court, following a 2016 knee injury has gone, while thanking the crowd in Dubai, where he maintains a base.
“It’s incredible to be back after the knee,” Federer said. “I’m standing and I’m here.
“It’s nice as you’re warming up you hear the crowd as they’re getting pumped up,.
“And when you walk out, I don’t know, it’s a nice feeling to have. It’s mutual, because I missed playing here last year.”
The Swiss is looking for his eighth title at the tournament and will next play either Mikhail Youzhny or Evgeny Donskoy.
Gilles Muller, the eighth seed at the tournament was dealt a first round loss at the hands of veteran German Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-4 7-6(1).
It was a good day for the Spanish at the tournament with Marcel Granollers, Guillermo Garcia-Lopez and sixth seed Roberto Bautista-Agut all advancing to the second round with straight-sets victories.
In the last match of the opening day Frenchman Gael Monfils also charged into the second round with a 6-4 6-3 win over Egyptian wildcard Mohamed Safwat.
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