BASEL: Roger Federer charged past his first hurdle in the quest for a lucky seventh title at the Swiss Indoors late on Tuesday, with the top seed delivering a crushing 6-1, 6-2 lesson to Mikhail Kukushkin.
Federer set up a second-round contest with a good friend he has beaten in all ten of their matches as he plays Philipp Kohlschreiber after the German started with a 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 defeat of Pole Jerzy Janowicz.
The Swiss world number three said that the victory was just the tonic he needed in the wake of an opening round loss a fortnight ago in Shanghai, where he was defending that Masters 1000 title. “I’m very pleased for a first round win, especially after Shanghai,” he said. “To come out and play positive tennis was fun.”
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The top seed is seeking his 10th straight finals appearance at Basel and said he cannot take upcoming opponent Kohlschreiber for granted despite his 100% record. “The next match will be a bigger challenge and a different challenge against Kohlschreiber. He’s got different weapons than Kukushkin,” said Federer.
In another match, 2014 finalist David Goffin of Belgium, hammered by Federer in less than an hour a year ago in the title match, won his opening encounter as he beat Italian Andreas Seppi 3-6, 6-4, 6-4.
Frenchman Richard Gasquet, seeded fifth, kept his slender hopes of a year-end spot in London alive as he beat Jiri Vesely 6-3, 6-7 (2/7), 6-4.
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Gasquet would have to win titles at both Basel and Paris Bercy next week to have a chance of making the eight-player field, according to ATP calculations.
American sixth seed John Isner needed 64 minutes to put out Ernests Gulbis, sending down 16 aces in a 6-3, 6-4 win. Grigor Dimitrov began erasing a run of recent poor form as the Bulgarian beat Sergiy Stakhovsky 6-3, 6-4.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 29th, 2015.
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