Roger Federer showed no sign of back trouble, testing it at every opportunity, as he cruised into the second round of the Australian Open on Monday with a 7-5 6-2 6-2 victory over qualifier Alexander Kudryavtsev.
The 30-year-old Swiss – who withdrew during the leadup Qatar Open after suffering back pain – was at his clinical best, blasting winners from all angles as he wrapped up the match in 98 minutes at Rod Laver Arena.
“I’ve been feeling fine for three, four days now,” Federer said. “I’ve been able to practice full out. I really tried to put in an effort to play every point as hard as I could first to see how the back felt, try to get into it, hopefully win, and then see how I feel tomorrow.
“I’ll get a lot more information tomorrow, but I’m sure I’ll be fine.”
The 2010 champion, bidding to extend his men’s record to a 17th grand slam, traded baselines punches with his 172nd-ranked opponent early before landing a sublime backhand winner down the line to seal the first set and seize the initiative.
Kudryavtsev drew a rare scowl from Federer, however, when he won a furious baseline skirmish to break the Swiss’s serve and claw back to 3-2 in the third set.
But the 26-year-old rued clipping a net cord in the next game that set up an easy backhand winner that allowed Federer to break back and cruise to victory.
“It was just tough against a guy who hits big and flat from both sides and takes a lot of chances,” Federer said.
“I was anxious to find out how I was going to play, how my opponent was going to play me.
“I was really excited and a little nervous actually going into it, which was a good feeling to have.
“I’m looking forward to the other matches.”