DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Back on court, Roger Federer won his first match since claiming his 18th Grand Slam title at the Australian Open.
The third-seeded Federer beat Benoit Paire 6-1, 6-3 Monday to move into the second round of the Dubai Tennis Championships. Federer, a seven-time Dubai champion who holds a 48-5 record in 13 appearances, missed last year’s tournament with a knee injury.
“It’s incredible to be back after the knee,” Federer said. “I’m standing and I’m here.”
Federer was cheered as he walked on court. He maintains a home in Dubai and is viewed as a part-time local in the city.
“It’s nice as you’re warming up you hear the crowd as they’re getting pumped up,” Federer said. “You hear music and hear the roars.
“And when you walk out, I don’t know, it’s a nice feeling to have,” he added. “It’s mutual, because I missed playing here last year.”
Federer saved all three break points he faced in the match, with all three coming in the fifth service game of the first set.
“There were some break points to be saved,” Federer said. “I think I returned very well for a first round. I was able to get my second serves in deep, was able to go into the offensive quickly.”
Also, Philipp Kohlschreiber beat eighth-seeded Gilles Muller 6-4, 7-6 (1) and sixth-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut defeated Karen Khachanov 6-1, 7-6 (4).
The 32nd-ranked Kohlschreiber is now two matches away from his 400th career victory.