MELBOURNE – Defending champion Roger Federer served straight through Denis Istomin to win their first-round encounter at the Australian Open on Monday, securing a 6-3 6-4 6-4 victory.
Istomin, of Uzbekistan, has twice reached the fourth round of a Grand Slam and proved to be a worthy combatant from the back of the court with his heavy, aggressive, baseline game.
But the Swiss third seed’s mountainous serve proved too big an obstacle for his opponent to climb, and Federer was not seriously challenged in his own service games.
Federer will play British qualifier Dan Evans, ranked 189 in the world, in the second round.
“I think I can trust my second serve in particular; when you trust your second serve, you can go after your first serve,” Federer told journalists.
“I started to feel that midway through the first set it was going to be difficult for Denis to get into my service games. That relaxes you from the baseline. Then, good things really happen.”
Both players had their share of momentum in the largely baseline affair. Federer, however, did not face a single break point during the match, such was his serving dominance.
Federer broke Istomin’s serve once in each set.
After a conservative first set, Federer tickled the giddy crowd with an on-the-run, curling backhand pass in the third game of the second set which seemed to add rocket fuel to his groundstrokes for the remainder of the match.
The Swiss broke serve that game and Istomin never recovered.
Federer and rival Novak Djokovic are both in search of a record seventh Australian Open title in Melbourne and, with it, a winner’s purse of A$4.1 million (about R40.66 million).