sport

Federer glides past Paire

Roger Federer opened his Australian Open challenge - and his season - with a routine straight-sets victory over Benoit Paire.

The second seed came to Melbourne having played no warm-up tournaments, but showed no signs of rustiness as he kicked off his bid for a fourth Australian Open title with a 6-2 6-3 6-1 win over the world number 46 in just 83 minutes.

For Paire, who deals more in spurts of inspiration than the sustained brilliance of Federer, it was a painful experience and by the end he looked keen to get off court as quickly as possible.

Federer said: "Benoit's a good player, a good talent. I haven't played a match this season yet. You're not sure [how you're going to play] and that's why you're relieved when you get through the first one."

Federer, who won the pair's only previous encounter in straight sets, was immediately into his stride as he broke in game one, then produced a wonderful pick-up at net in his opening service game, going on to save two break points to hold for a 2-0 lead.

Paire held twice and matched his opponent in patches, but Federer broke again for 5-2 then served out in style.

Paire was unruffled, though, and opened up set two with back-to-back aces to help take the first game.

But normal service was resumed as Federer broke for 2-1 then held to love to take a firm grip on the second set.

Paire held to stop the rot as Federer sent a backhand long, but he struggled to make any impact on the Swiss player's delivery as the set progressed with serve.

Federer produced a textbook serve-volley point for 5-3, but failed to take a set-point chance as Paire held on to make him serve for the set.

Predictably, the task presented the former world number one with few problems as he held to 15 and took the set when Paire pushed a backhand long.

Federer broke to open the third and, with all hope lost, Paire came out swinging, but he was missing more than he was hitting and the tactic served only to hasten his demise.

Even when Paire did show good touch at net with an acute backhand, Federer was there to pat the ball into the open court - a point which gave him a 4-0 lead.

Paire finally held for 4-1, then, produced the unlikeliest of break points - his first since Federer's opening service game of the match - but could not convert it.

Paire's game descended into trick shots as he attempted - unsuccessfully - a volley between his legs as he served to stay in the match.

Staying in the match looked like the very last thing he wanted, though, and Federer closed it out at the second attempt.

Afterward, the Swiss, who will next face either Israel's Dudi Sela or former world number three Nikolay Davydenko or Russia, explained his decision to play no warm-up matches.

"I've had a few busy years since I had kids," he said. "I just wanted to cool down a bit. It's nice to enjoy the off season. I hope it's the right decision, we'll see how it goes. I'm confident in my play."

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the runner-up here in 2008, is regarded as a threat to the 'big three', especially if can raise his game late in the second week, and he too looked good in seeing off French compatriot Michael Llodra 6-4 7-5 6-2.

The same applies to Argentinian Juan Martin Del Potro, who dropped just five games in beating French qualifier Adrian Mannarino.

Big-hitting Canadian Milos Raonic dropped the first set but hit back to beat Jan Hajek in four while there were also wins for 17th seed Philipp Kohlschreiber and 21st seed Andreas Seppi.