A rejuvenated Roger Federer believes he is still reaping the benefits of his extended break from tennis after a comfortable opening victory at the ATP Montreal Masters gave him his best start to a season since 2006.
The Swiss star, who celebrated his 36th birthday on Tuesday, swatted aside Canada’s world No. 116 Peter Polansky 6-2, 6-1 in just 53 minutes to book his place in the second round.
Federer was joined in the last 16 by top seed and old adversary Rafael Nadal, who will depose the absent Andy Murray as world No. 1 if he reaches the semifinals in Montreal this week, routed Croatian youngster Borna Coric 6-1, 6-2.
Federer is riding high after a spectacular year which has netted him both the Australian Open and Wimbledon crowns.
On Wednesday’s evidence, few would bet against him adding the US Open to that haul after a masterful performance that left Polansky groping at shadows.
A one-sided win gave him a 32-2 start to the season, his best beginning to a campaign since 2006 when he began 38-2 and finished the year at world No. 1.
Federer attributed his renaissance to rediscovering full fitness after knee surgery in 2016 and taking a two-month break from the game earlier this year.
“I guess for me the key is that I’m actually healthy,” Federer said. “I knew that when I was healthy, I was going to be able to have chances to win slams again, to play against the best, beat the best.
“That’s also reasons why I’m still playing today. If I felt like I couldn’t do all these things, it would not be enjoyable or I wouldn’t be doing it any more.”
Federer will face Spain’s David Ferrer next. Ferrer upset 15th seed Jack Sock 7-6 (9/7), 3-6, 6-1.
France’s Gael Monfils saved four match points before digging deep to defeat Japanese fifth seed Kei Nishikori in an attritional three-set duel. Monfils prevailed 6-7(4), 7-5, 7-6(6) to advance.
There was almost another French Houdini act in the evening session, when Richard Gasquet fought back from triple match point down to earn three match points in the final set with Germany’s Alexander Zverev.
Fourth-seed Zverev however fought back brilliantly to claim victory in a tiebreak, winning 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(3).
Bopanna moves up
Rohan Bopanna, in partnership with Ivan Dodig of Croatia, got past Karen Khachanov of Russia and Dominic Thiem of Austria in the doubles pre-quarterfinals of the $4,917,120 ATP 1000 tennis tournament in Montreal, Canada.
In The Rogers Cup in Toronto, however, Sania Mirza had to endure the experience of giving another walkover, in the quarterfinals, as her partner Shuai Peng of China hurt her knee.
The results: At Toronto: Second round: Angelique Kerber bt Donna Vekic 6-4, 7-6(5), Karolţna Pltskovr bt Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-3, 6-3, Naomi Osaka bt Anastasija Sevastova 6-3, 6-4, Agnieszka Radwanska bt Ttmea Babos 6-0, 6-1, Sloane Stephens bt Petra Kvitova 7-6(4), 3-6, 6-2, Lucie Safarova bt Dominika Cibulkova 6-2, 6-4, Ekaterina Makarova bt Johanna Konta 5-7, 7-6(4), 6-3, Venus Williams bt Katerina Siniakovŕ 7-5, 7-5.
Doubles (quarterfinals): Nadia Kichenok (Ukr) & Anastasia Rodionova (Aus) w/o. Shuai Peng (Chn) & Sania Mirza; Pre-quarterfinals: Shuai Peng (Chn) & Sania Mirza bt Lauren Davis & Alison Riske (USA) 7-6(8), 6-3.
At Montreat: Second round: Rafael Nadal bt Borna Coric 6-1, 6-2, Denis Shapovalov bt Juan Martin Del Potro 6-3, 7-6(4), Chung Hyeon bt David Goffin 7-5, 6-3, Adrian Mannarino bt Milos Raonic 6-4, 6-4, Alexander Zverev bt Richard Gasquet 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(3), Nick Kyrgios bt Paolo Lorenzi 6-2, 6-3, Kevin Anderson bt Pablo Carreo-Busta 6-3, 7-6(6), Sam Querrey bt Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-1, 3-6, 6-4, Grigor Dimitrov bt Mischa Zverev 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, Robin Haase bt Ernesto Escobedo 6-4, 6-1, Gael Monfils bt Kei Nishikori 6-7(4), 7-5, 7-6 (6).
Doubles (pre-quarterfinals): Ivan Dodig (Cro) & Rohan Bopanna bt Karen Khachanov (Rus) & Dominic Thiem (Aut) 7-6(3), 6-4.
Source: The Hindu