Roger Federer is through to Round 2 in Melbourne after a flawless 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 over Steve Johnson in 1 hour and 21 minutes.
Making his 21st consecutive appearance at the Sunshine Slam but only his second without a warmup event prior, the Swiss quickly dispelled any notion of rust in his game, breaking in the second game to win the first set in just 27 minutes.
Johnson had arrived at Melbourne park brimming with confidence having won the Bendigo Challenger just two days ago but he was never able to make it into a contest, dropping serve five times and only creating one breakpoint chance as Federer swept him aside to set up a last sixty-four meeting against Quentin Halys or Filip Krajinovic.
Quick Match Recap
Federer won the toss and elected to serve. The Swiss kicked things off with a sub one minute hold to lead 1-0.
Johnson, on the other hand, started with a double fault and soon found himself down 0-40 as Federer broke to fifteen to lead 2-0.
It wasn't the start the American wanted, but he did have an immediate chance to break back, firing a rare backhand drive winner down the line to setup 30-40. An unfortunate net cord on a big inside out forehand helped Roger save it and he went on to hold for 3-0.
Johnson got on the board in game four, holding from deuce but another speedy love hold from Roger put him 4-1 in front before rain stopped play and the roof needed to be closed.
Play resumed after a ten-minute delay and Johson held to thirty for 2-4 before yet another speedy love hold put Roger 5-2 in front.
That trend continued across the next two games as Roger served it out comfortably to take it 6-3 in 27 minutes.
Into set two and Johnson again found himself down an immediate break, struggling to deal with Federer's early ball striking before going long with a forehand.
A swift hold to fifteen put the Swiss up 2-0 before he went one better than the first set, securing a double break for 3-0.
Back to back aces helped Roger cement a 4-0 lead and he was soon up 5-1. The first pressure on serve for Federer came in game eight as he slipped to 15-30 but the forehand reeled off some solid winners to take the set 6-2 in 23 minutes.
Set three started in identical fashion to the two previous, with Johnson dropping serve immediately and Federer consolidating for 2-0.
The Swiss then had a breakpoint chance to secure the double break but played a tad casually as Johnson held. However, another comfortable hold maintained the break at 3-1.
Johnson looked to be en route to another service hold in game five at 40-15, but Federer reeled off three points in a row to hold another breakpoint, Last week's Bendigo Challenger winner saved it but couldn't fend off a second as Roger moved into a 4-1 lead.
Solid serving consolidated the double break from 15-30 to lead 5-1 and the X time champion was soon booking his spot in round two taking it 6-2 to win through in 1 hour and 21 minutes.
|Steve Johnson||Roger Federer|
|1st serve in||63% (46/73)||74% (49/66)|
|Win 1st serve||57% (26/46)||82% (40/49)|
|Win 2nd serve||48% (13/27)||76% (13/17)|
|Breakpoints won||0% (0/1)||56% (5/9)|
|Net points won||45% (5/11)||72 (23/32)|
|Receiving points won||18% (12/66)||44% (32/73)|
|Return unforced errors||0||3|
|Total points won||52||87|
|Fastest serve||202 km/h||203 km/h|
|1st Serve Average||188 km/h||185 km/h|
|2nd serve average||159 km/h||153 km/h|
On Court Interview
Thoughts on the Match
I'm very happy. It's nice to be back here in Australia. Sorry, I missed the ATP Cup, it looked fun on TV. Stevie told you looked rusty in the first round. I was like ha no, not really, I felt really good. It was a really good first round for me. I trained really hard in the offseason, obviously needed some vacation too, toured South America a little bit at the end of the season which was so much fun, incredible people over there, great crowds and atmosphere. Then I needed a rest and I trained really hard like I always do, happy I had no setbacks, almost like every offseason I never have setbacks, that sets you up really nicely for the season, regardless of how it goes here you know you have that block in you and I'm happy I played well, felt good in practice, so I'm happy it showed on the court as well. Federer in his on court interview with Jim Courier.
A perfect first round for performance here from Roger as he got out of the gates quickly and never looked back, breaking early in each of the three sets and then being able to roll through his service games to maintain the advantage.
The last thing he needed was to get into a dog fight in his first competitive match since November so the match turned out to be ideal. Those early breaks allowed him to play pressure-free and find his feet on the new GreenSet surface.
Like I said in my draw preview, Johnson is a typical old school type player with a big forehand but an ineffective backhand and like most guys, struggled to cope with Federer's early ball striking and smothering tennis that gave him zero time from the baseline.
Stats wise it's all good reading for Roger with 34 winners to just 20 unforced errors and given he dropped just 12 points on serve, it felt like Johnson was always the one having to serve.
Predictions vs Krajinovic
Next up for Federer is Filip Krajinovic who had to finish his match on Tuesday after the rain disrupted play all afternoon on Monday.
The Serb eventually prevailed 7-5 in the fifth, after relinquishing a two-set lead against qualifier Quentin Halys.
Considering Federer has not played the Frenchman before, Krajinovic is likely a preferred opponent as he leads the H2H against him 3-0 with his most recent victory coming in Miami last year.
The Serb is a solid ball striker and takes it early off both wings so he can be tricky to play against, however he comes in with a poor record against top 10 opposition (just one win, a retirement against fellow countryman Djokovic in 2010 at the Serbian Open) and also has the disadvantage of spending 3 hours and 54 minutes on court today.
That gives Roger an even bigger edge than he'd have if they were both fresh so I expect Roger to come through in straight sets.
What did you guys think of Federer's first match in Melbourne? Let me know in the comments.