Roger Federer opened his Dubai title defense hammering Mikhail Youzhny 6-3, 6-1. After a disappointing loss a month ago in Australia to Andreas Seppi, it was about as good of a start as you could hope for the six-time Dubai champion.
Federer had owned Seppi until Melbourne, and he had won all 15 against the Russian Youzhny.
“The last thing I want to do is lose back-to-back matches playing careful,” said Federer. “I know I can play careful tennis, but then you cannot leave it up to the other guys sometimes if you are going to win or lose. I feel over the years I have won my biggest matches in most tournaments by playing on my terms, and you can’t always do it. It’s difficult to come out and dominate every match, every point, and it’s also hard work always playing aggressive.”
Federer is now 7-1 on the season including a Brisbane title. This was his first event since the third round loss to Seppi.
“It’s nice getting back out there and having thousands root for you and for your opponent, because you can only practise that much after a while without anybody watching you,” said Federer. “It just gets a bit boring after a while. So I prefer to play matches after all.
“I’m lucky enough to be put on prime time most of the time so people come out and watch me play often,” he added. “So I appreciate that, and it’s definitely keeping me on the tour longer. There’s not a doubt about that.”
In the second round Federer will meet the Fernando Verdasco-Guillermo Garcia-Lopez winner. He is also in the doubles with countryman Michael Lammer.
Seppi was also in action today in Dubai but the Italian was upended by Richard Gasquet. Ernests Gulbis’s slump continued. The Latvian lost his seventh straight match, this time falling to Denis Istomin.
“I’m not in good form right now,” said Gulbis who is 0-5 this year. “I’m not feeling my shots at all. I have no timing. In practice I have been playing worse than in the match.”
On tap Tuesday, 4-time champion Novak Djokovic begins his bid for a 50th career title against Vasek Pospisil. Andy Murray is also on against lefty Gilles Muller. Muller has wins this year over John Isner, Roberto Bautista Agut, Bernard Tomic and Grigor Dimitrov.
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