Federer beats Youzhny in Dubai
World No. 2 Roger Federer showed no signs of rustiness as he produced a clinical 6-3, 6-1 win over two-time finalist Mikhail Youzhny before a near-capacity crowd on the opening night of the Dubai Duty Free Men’s Open late on Monday.
Federer, who is chasing a record seventh singles title in Dubai, was close to his best in winning 87 per cent of points on his first serve as he took the opening set 6-3 in a mere 32 minutes, with the breaks coming in the seventh and ninth games.
Starting the match with a 15-0 career record against his Russian opponent, Federer stayed focused in the second set as he rattled Youzhny with an early break and then held to lead 3-0.
The second break came in the sixth game opening up a 5-1 lead and the Swiss served out imperiously to win in 56 minutes and set up a second round encounter with the winner of the match between the Spanish duo of Fernando Verdasco and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez.
“I think it was close in that first set. We were both trying to find our range,” said Federer, who was playing his first match since losing to Andres Seppi in the third round of the Australian Open a month ago. “I’m happy I didn’t start to play too careful after it, because it is tough to play here in Dubai with the quick conditions.
“After that, I started to return much better. The serve too got a bit more consistent and my half volleys were getting better. I was able to get the set and the break, and then that’s when you can bring it home.
“The last thing I want to do is lose back-to-back matches playing careful. I know I can play careful tennis, but then you cannot leave it up to the other guys sometimes if you are going to win or lose.
“I feel over the years I have won my biggest matches in most tournaments by playing on my terms, and you can’t always do it. It’s difficult to come out and dominate every match, every point, and it’s also hard work always playing aggressive.”
Youzhny had not lost in the first round in Dubai since going down to Spaniard Alex Calatrava in 2002, but he had no luck with the draw on his 14th successive visit to Dubai.
The Russian has made it two finals here and had a couple of semi-final appearances, but Federer has been a regular obstacle. In 2005, the Swiss ace won in straight sets in their quarter-final meeting, and a year later Youzhny reached the semi-finals before he was stopped by Federer in straight sets. In 2007, Federer beat him 6-4, 6-3 in the final.