Roger Federer, who has slipped to sixth in the ATP rankings, opened his Swiss Indoors account with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Adrian Mannarino at his home town of Basel on Monday.
The five-time Basel champion needs to put up superhuman efforts this week as well as the upcoming Paris Masters if he is to secure one of four spots remaining in the eight-man field at the World Tour Finals in London next month.
Federer, seeded third behind holder Juan Martin del Potro and Czech Tomas Berdych, is duelling for the spot at the finals with compatriot Stanislas Wawrinka, who stands provisional seventh in the points race with his famed compatriot a mere five points adrift on eighth.
Federer is making his 14th appearance at the event and improved to 48-8 at the St Jakobshalle.
Wawrinka, a US open finalist this year, is competing in Basel for the tenth time, reaching the semi-finals in 2006 and 2011.
"It's great be back in Basel, I get so much energy from this crowd," Federer told his adoring public at the event where he got his start in tennis as a ballboy.
"I'm concentrating on playing well and hoping to qualify for London."
The Swiss superstar faces either Uzbekistan's Denis Istomin or Argentina's Horacio Zeballos in the second round.
The 32-year-old, accorded a warm reception when he walked onto court, lost his service once before taking the first set against his French rival ranked 62 in the world.
The 17-time Grand Slam winner moved up a gear in the second set, breaking twice, converting four breaks of serve from 13 chances to wrap up the match in one hour 11 minutes.
Federer on Sunday recognised he had made serious errors in his planning which have contributed to a disastrous 2013 and who last week split from his long time coach Paul Anacone.
Having won only one ATP title this year, in Halle, he is at risk of missing out on the World tour Finals which he has won six times.
He has insisted that despite his fall from grace retirement is not on the horizon.