MELBOURNE: Defending champion Roger Federer dazzled under the Australian Open lights to waltz through to the second round with a straight sets win over Aljaz Bedene on Tuesday.
The ageless Swiss marvel, rated as the favourite to win his 20th Grand Slam title, thrilled the Rod Laver Arena crowd with a virtuoso performance.
The second seed cruised to a 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 win in 1hr 39min and will next play German Jan-Lennard Struff.
It improved his Australian Open record to 88-13 in his 19th campaign Down Under.
Federer, who insists he is too old at 36 to be rated the tournament favourite, put away the 51st-ranked Slovenian with a catalogue of his signature shot-making.
“My dream was always to play a long time on tour and we had a few guys playing a long time and I think that inspired me,” he said post-match.
“I´m loving it and hopefully I can play for a little longer.”
Federer is coming off an extraordinary 2017, when he won a fifth Australian Open title and a record eighth at Wimbledon, after returning from an injury lay-off.
He said the margin the elite players had over others helped them to make successful comebacks from injuries, pointing to himself last year, and Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka at this year´s Open.
“I think because we maybe have a margin against a lot of the players normally, when we do come back, we can maybe find that level,” Federer said.