'Old school work ethic' pays off for immaculate Federer

Roger Federer (Getty Images)
Roger Federer (Getty Images)

Melbourne - Roger Federer has never lost in the first round at the Australian Open since his debut 20 years ago, and the Swiss great kept his incredible record intact Monday, attributing "old school work ethic" for his Melbourne Park success.

The 38-year-old swatted aside Steve Johnson 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 to race into the second round, kickstarting his bid for a 21st Grand Slam title in immaculate style.

Federer said ahead of the tournament that he had low expectations at the year's opening Grand Slam after missing the warm-up ATP Cup to spend more time with his family.

It left him short of match practice, but it didn't show on Rod Laver Arena against the American.

"I think for me really the first three rounds are key to get going, to get used to the pressure, stay calm, when to save breakpoint or 30-all points or whatever it may be," he said.

"This is sort of the unknown that can be a little bit scary at times.

"But today there was none of that because I broke early each set and was able to get on a roll, play freely after that."

The crowd favourite knew he needed to get out of the blocks fast against the world number 75 and that's what he did, racing to a 4-1 lead in the opening set before a 10-minute interruption for the roof to be shut due to rain.

Federer returned and wrapped up the set in just 27 minutes.

Johnson, known for his big forehand and slice backhand, again gave away service breaks early in the next two sets and there was no way back against a man who delivered some jaw-dropping returns and forehands.

He will next play either French qualifier Quentin Halys or Serbian Filip Krajinovic, admitting "I have to be careful".

"Round-by-round, point-for-point mentality. I know other guys that are playing extremely well right now so I think it's just important to stay very calm about things."

Seeded three, Federer is gunning for not only a 21st Slam title but his seventh in Australia, having most recently tasted success at Melbourne Park in 2018.

His earliest exit in Australia since 2000 has been the third round, and the Swiss star said hard work was key to his longevity.

"At the end of the day, old-school work ethic, there is nothing wrong with that," he said.

"I do believe if you're in a slump, not feeling well, whatever it may be, knowing how to train hard, when to train hard, with who to train hard, there is nothing wrong when it goes to those things.

"And learning from your mistakes is key, as we remember our losses more than our wins. It's just important that when you do lose, you know, you really make the most of it, because it's actually an opportunity."

Despite his age, Federer remains a competitive force and won four singles titles last year.

But he failed to add another Grand Slam with his closest call coming in the Wimbledon final, where he lost a five-set epic to Novak Djokovic.

In contrast to his 2019 Major drought, Djokovic and Rafael Nadal won two apiece, with the Spaniard moving within one Slam title of Federer's record 20.

Collated results on day one of the Australian Open Grand Slam at Melbourne Park on Monday:

Men's singles

1st round

Matteo Berrettini (ITA x8) bt Andrew Harris (AUS) 6-3, 6-1, 6-3

Ricardas Berankis (LIT) bt Roberto Carballes (ESP) 6-4, 6-2, 6-2

Sam Querrey (USA) bt Borna Coric (CRO x25) 6-3, 6-4, 6-4

Guido Pella (ARG x22) bt John-Patrick Smith (AUS) 6-3, 7-5, 6-4

Gregoire Barrere (FRA) bt Mohamed Safwat (EGY) 6-7 (8/10), 7-6 (7/1), 6-4, 7-6 (7/5)

Marton Fucsovics (HUN) bt Denis Shapovalov (CAN x13) 6-3, 6-7 (7/9), 6-1, 7-6 (7/3)

Grigor Dimitrov (BUL x18) bt Juan Ignacio Londero (ARG) 4-6, 6-2, 6-0, 6-4

Daniel Evans (GBR x30) bt Mackenzie McDonald (USA) 3-6, 4-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-3

Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN) bt Laslo Djere (SRB) 6-4, 3-6, 6-2, 7-6 (7/1)

Roger Federer (SUI x3) bt Steve Johnson (USA) 6-3, 6-2, 6-2

Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE x6) bt Salvatore Caruso (ITA) 6-0, 6-2, 6-3

Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) bt Marcos Giron (USA) 7-5, 6-1, 6-2

Novak Djokovic (SRB x2) bt Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) 7-6 (7/5), 6-2, 2-6, 6-1

Women's singles

1st round

Zhu Lin (CHN) bt Viktorija Golubic (SUI) 4-6, 6-1, 7-6 (10/5)

Julia Georges (GER) bt Viktoria Kuzmova (SVK) 6-1, 6-2

Petra Martic (CRO x13) bt Christina McHale (USA) 6-3, 6-0

Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS x25) bt Jil Teichmann (SUI) 6-4, 4-6, 6-2

Barbora Krejcikova (CZE) bt Kaia Kanepi (EST) 7-6 (7/3), 2-6, 6-3

Paula Badosa (ESP) bt Johanna Larsson (SWE) 6-1, 6-0

Petra Kvitova (CZE x7) bt Katerina Siniakova (CZE) 6-1, 6-0

Naomi Osaka (JPN x3) bt Marie Bouzkova (CZE) 6-2, 6-4

Zheng Saisai (CHN) bt Anna Kalinskaya (RUS) 6-3, 6-2

Sorana Cirstea (ROU) bt Barbora Strycova (CZE x32) 6-2, 7-6 (7/5)

Ann Li (USA) bt Lizette Cabrera (AUS) 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (12/10)

Sofia Kenin (USA x14) bt Martina Trevisan (ITA) 6-2, 6-4

Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) bt Kristie Ahn (USA) 6-1, 6-3

Tamara Zidansek (SLO) bt Han Na-lae (KOR) 6-3, 6-3

Serena Williams (USA x8) bt Anastasia Potapova (RUS) 6-0, 6-3

Ashleigh Barty (AUS x1) bt Lesya Tsurenko (UKR) 5-7, 6-1, 6-1

Coco Gauff (USA) bt Venus Williams (USA) 7-6 (7/5), 6-3

Caty McNally (USA) bt Samantha Stosur (AUS) 6-1, 6-4

Zhang Shuai (CHN) bt Sloane Stephens (USA x24) 2-6, 7-5, 6-2


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