World No.2 Roger Federer gave his return to the court a big tick after powering past Japan’s Yuichi Sugita 6-4 6-3 in Saturday night’s Hopman Cup clash at Perth Arena.
Federer was forced to save a break point in his first game, and miscued a forehand into the crowd during the opening set before breaking world No.40 Sugita in the fifth game with some mesmerising play.
From there it was all one way traffic as the 19-time grand slam winner wrapped the match up in 66 minutes to give Switzerland a 1-0 lead in the tie.
Despite the easy win, Federer was rusty at times, and he said it was nice to dust off the cobwebs in his first tournament since playing in the ATP World Tour Finals in mid-November.
At this time last year, Federer was entering the unknown after spending six months out with a knee injury.
But after winning two Grand Slams including the Australian Open in a wildly successful 2017 campaign, the 36-year-old said he felt more at ease in his Hopman Cup opener compared to the previous year.
“This year I feel much more in a rhythm,” Federer said. “You get to break point or the moment where you have to serve the first time of the year, and it’s a normal thing.
“Whereas last year, I was like, ‘Ooh, I hope I’m going to be able to hit my first serves, and I hope it’s going to work out as much as it did in the practice’.
— Hopman Cup (@hopmancup) December 30, 2017
“I think all those question marks aren’t really there this time around, which is a nice thing.”
Federer said his body was feeling great, and he was pleased with his first outing.
“I’m just very happy I was able to have a good level today, and stay calm under pressure,” added Federer. “I had some good moments moving forward (to the net) and playing up in the court.That’s how I want to play for the year. I think it was a great start.”
Former world No.7 Belinda Bencic can wrap up the tie win with victory over Naomi Osaka in the women’s rubber.
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