REUTERS: Roger Federer ranged from imperious to effective as he beat Michael Llodra 6-0 7-6 in the Dubai Championships on Tuesday but Britain’s Andy Murray was made to fight for his spot in the second round.
Federer raced through the first set in only 17 minutes, breaking his opponent three times in a ruthlessly dominant display of court craft.
The Swiss number two seed did not drop a game until the eighth of the match, but the Frenchman dug in to force a tie break in the second set.
The breaker was closely-fought but Federer eventually won it 8-6 with a backhand on the run. He will now play Spaniard Felicano Lopez, who beat France’s Nicolas Mahut 6-4 6-4.
“It’s always great to start off a tournament winning the first set 6-0. I don’t know when that’s the last time it’s happened to me,” the 16-times grand slam champion said.
World number four Murray was pushed hard by German qualifier Michael Berrer before winning 6-3 4-6 6-4 to book his place in the second round.
The third seed, who was playing his first match since losing to Novak Djokovic in the semi-final of the Australian Open in January, led by a set and 3-2 before Berrer fought back to clinch the second.
Murray looked sluggish at the start of the decider, but broke to lead 5-4 and then comfortably closed out the match.
“At the start of the match I didn’t feel great,” Murray said on the ATP website (www.atpworldtour.com).
“It was one of those strange sets. It was quite a frustrating match because I was up a break twice in the second set, and each time I think gave it straight back.
“I could have made it a little bit easier for myself if I played a bit better.”
Murray will face Marco Chiudinelli in the second round after the Swiss overcame Russia’s Nikolay Davydenko 6-4 5-7 6-4.
Former U.S. Open champion Juan Martin del Potro maintained his hot streak by stifling Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-3 7-6.
The Argentine captured the Marseille Open on Sunday and has now won nine of his last 10 matches after also reaching the Rotterdam final earlier this month.
Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga fought past Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus 7-6 6-4 while Czech Tomas Berdych beat Germany’s Benjamin Becker 6-2 6-2.