Federer began his campaign for a record sixth Dubai Championships
title with a 6-1, 6-4, win over Germany’s Benjamin Becker on Monday.
Federer and top-seeded Novak
Djokovic, who will play his first match against Denis Istomin on
Tuesday, have won nine of the last 11 titles in Dubai.
The Swiss, ranked No 8, looked imperious as he continued his run of never
having dropped a set to Becker in four matches. “I’m extremely happy with
today’s match,” Federer said. “Coming out and playing free tennis like that
right off the bat is a good feeling.”
Federer won the trophy in 2003-05, 2007 and 2012. Djokovic, the defending
champion, won four times, with Rafael Nadal winning in 2006 and Andy Roddick
Federer raced through the first set against Becker in 22 minutes. “Things can
run away very quickly here,” Federer said. “If you look at the winner list
from here, it’s guys who play well on [fast] grass courts. It’s worth it to
go for your shots and you feel like risky tennis will be rewarded.”
In the second set, Becker challenged better by playing himself into points.
Trailing 3-2, Federer needed to draw on all his skills to win the sixth game
with an audacious shot through his own legs which left Becker scrambling.
The German fought back and Federer faced a break point in the final game,
which went to deuce twice, but managed to close it out.
Seventh-seeded Philipp Kohlschreiber, of Germany, won his opening match 6-3,
6-3 over Dutch qualifier Thiemo De Bakker. Kohlschreiber led 6-3, 5-0 when
he lost three game in a row before serving out.
Eighth-seeded Dmitry Tursunov, of Russia, was a 7-5, 6-1 winner over
101st-ranked qualifier Lukas Lacko, of Slovakia.
Andreas Seppi, of Italy, beat Germany’s Florian Mayer 4-6, 6-1, 7-5 after
going 4-1 down in the third set.
“I just tried to keep fighting,” Seppi said. “I didn’t have so many matches
under my belt this year. He gave me some chances to come back.”
The victory was only the second for Seppi this year. His only other match win
was beating Lleyton Hewitt in five sets in the Australian Open first round.