Roger Federer may have had little difficulty getting past Somdev Devvarman in the first round of the Dubai Open on Tuesday, but the 16-time Grand Slam champion was impressed with the fight the Indian put up.
"He's a good player. And then from what I've heard, and as he showed tonight, I think a faster court actually suits his game quite a bit," Federer sized up Devvarman after the 6-3, 6-3 victory.
"He counterpunches well, so if he goes through the ball, it has more pace on it and so forth. That's why I knew I had to be careful.
"He had one chance in the second set to go a break ahead. Those are the little opportunities, if he starts taking them, the match can take a different turn."
The balls were flying higher and faster than most outdoor hard courts, making it difficult for both players to put their best foot forward. But, despite playing with one of the best in the world, Devvarman didn't let the nerves take over.
"Roger is my idol, one of the greatest players ever," the 26-year-old Indian said. "My game plan was to keep him back, not let him really attack the ball too much. It's really hard to do because he plays tennis on his terms, and he does pretty much what he wants to out there. He makes the game look a lot easier than it is, trust me."
Devvarman was playing his first match against a top-10 players and rather than being blown off the court by the pace and power, which has come to define men's top-flight tennis, he was left reeling under pressure from the Federer serve. "He serves well. It's very underrated how good his serve is. You know, because he does that, I feel like he puts a lot pressure on you when you're serving.