As Roger Federer looks to dethrone the seemingly invincible Novak Djokovic in this year's Australian Open, he could not have asked for a better start to the tournament, turning in a 6-2, 6-1, 6-2 victory over Nikoloz Basilashvili in only 72 minutes. Federer played crisp and clean tennis, dominating the young Georgian on Rod Laver Arena. His next round, however, gets tricky, with the always tough Alexandr Dolgopolov on-deck.
Federer's First Round Domination
After battling a cold throughout the Brisbane International tournament two weeks ago, Federer answered any questions and potential concerns about his health with his dominant play. He made quick work of Basilashvili as expected, but his dominant form was not as expected, especially in round one, when many players simply hope to work out the early jitters and mistakes. Roger's game overall worked to perfection all-night-long, turning in one of his, simply put, vintage Federer performances. The Swiss number one finished the evening with 31 winners, compared to only nine for Basilashvili. Federer made the highlight-reel with several incredible backhand winners down-the-line. He was able to convert eight of 14 break points en route to only dropping five games.
Roger "Really Pleased" With His Game
During his on-court interview after the match, during which he barely needed to break a sweat, Federer admitted that even he was a little bit surprised as to how well he played. Federer explained, saying, "That was a good match. I'm really pleased how I was able to play. Definitely gives me a bit of a lift in confidence, because this year, I haven't been able to play properly yet. I had some decent matches in Brisbane, but it was all under a cloud knowing that I wasn't 100 percent.' Roger went on to add that he was able to focus on his game and his tactics, which is important moving forward.
Dolgopolov's First Round Match
Ranked 35th in the world, Dolgopolov has earned respect in the locker-room for his always "pesky" play over the years. He doesn't have the typical height, but he makes up for it in speed and overall knowledge of the game. In Indian Wells last season, the Ukranian beat Rafael Nadal, Fabio Fognini, and Milos Raonic back-to-back before losing to Federer in the semifinals. He has the type of game that can bother any top player just enough to be able to pull off an upset.
In the first round, Dolgopolov drew-up Ricardas Berankis of Lithuania. It was a close affair, but "The Dolgo" came through in four sets, 6-1, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2. While Dolgopolov finished with 34 winners, he also had 39 unforced errors. In the end, he was able to pull through thanks to winning 82% of his first serve points. He will need to step his game up a few levels if he wants to keep this match competitive.
For Federer, the level of competition rises quickly from round one to round two. Dolgopolov is a quality player who has the type of game to beat anyone, on his very best day. The two have faced-off twice before, with the "Fed-Express" rolling on both occasions, in Basel in 2010 as well as the 2014 Indian Wells semifinals. All things considered, Dolgopolov should keep this one entertaining, but if Federer can play at a level close to that of round one, this match will not be close.
Federer was at his best in round one, which should scare the entire field. He should be able to control the rallies as well as vary his game by coming to the net often, in order to keep points short. He does not want to get into long rallies with Dolgopolov. Unless Federer's game fails him, and Dolgopolov has one of his best days ever, Federer should get through this one comfortably.
Prediction: Federer in three sets.