Roger Federer made a winning start in his quest for a seventh title at the Swiss Indoors in Basel on Tuesday, with the top seed delivering a crushing 6-1, 6-2 lesson to Kazakhstan’s 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 German Philipp Kohlschreiber, who started with a 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 defeat of Poland’s Jerzy Janowicz. 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), 6-4. Gasquet will 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 Ukraine’s Sergiy Stakhovsky 6-3, 6-4.
Federer’s demolition in front of an appreciative home public at the event where the 17-time Grand Slam winner got his start in the game as a ballboy took only 54 minutes. “What I did was good, maybe I could have been a bit more efficient on break point chances and tried a few different things that didn’t match up that well with what he was doing,” said the Swiss world number three.
“But I moved well, served well and got off to a good start. That was the goal. Once in the lead I was able to stretch that and keep the pressure on him.”
Federer 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. To come out and play positive tennis was good fun today.”
The top-seeded Swiss is seeking his 10th straight finals appearance at Basel. He last beat Kukushkin in the Davis Cup quarter-finals in Geneva a year ago. “I was seeing the ball as big as a melon,” said the 34-year-old, who has five titles this season. “I’m very happy with this performance, especially to advance so well here at home.
“This was a very good start for me, an enjoyable match.”
Federer said he cannot take upcoming opponent Kohlschreiber for granted despite his 100 percent record. “The next match will be a bigger challenge and a different challenge against Kohlschreiber. He’s got different weapons than Kukushkin.
“If you have beaten someone 10 times there is the possibility that the next time you could have a loss. But having that kind of a record is always good for confidence.”