ZURICH — Roger Federer began his bid for a sixth title at the Swiss Indoors by beating substitute opponent Benjamin Becker 7-5, 6-3 on Monday to reach the second round.
Report by Reuters
The German, ranked 83rd with one career title, had replaced injured Frenchman Jeremy Chardy as the first opponent for the Swiss home hero and world No 1.
Federer, who has won five of the last six editions at the St Jakobshalle where he got his start in tennis as a ballboy at the tournament almost two decades ago, needed to work to get past the persistent Becker, whom he beat in their last two meetings, the last in 2010.
“I was well-prepared to play Becker instead of Chardy,” said Federer, bidding for his 77th career title this week and after more than 300 weeks spent as the ATP No 1.
“You have to keep the game of these guys in mind, You don’t play them that much but you need to know how they play.”
The winner advanced in just under 90 minutes after a first set which took an hour and fired 10 aces in victory. But the Swiss didn’t have it all his own way, missing on six break points in the opening set and going down a break in the second before finally settling in, taking charge and running out the winner.
“I don’t know exactly how I changed it around,” said Federer, playing his first match since losing a Shanghai semifinal nine days ago to Andy Murray, sitting out this tournament with a back injury.