Roger Federer took the opening step in his bid for a record eighth title at the Dubai Tennis Championships on Monday with a comprehensive 6-1, 6-3 defeat of Benoit Paire.
Federer, playing his first match since winning a record 18th Grand Slam title a month ago in Melbourne over Rafael Nadal, had been unsure of his form after dealing with a leg injury picked up at the Australian Open combined with a month off court after his title triumph.
But he need not have worried as he defeated Paire for the fourth time without a loss with the streaky Frenchman treated on his right ankle and also jeered for tossing a racquet in the second set as he was crashing to defeat.
Federer is playing the event for the 13th time, improving to 48-5 in the emirate where he keeps a training base. Federer won his 11th match since losing to Tomas Berdych in the 2013 semifinals.
He has yet to lift an eighth title at any event having achieved seven in Dubai, Wimbledon, Basel, Cincinnati and Halle.
"I'm happy with how I played, I was able to stay aggressive," Federer said as the event began it's 25th edition. "I couldn't have had a better first round start.
"I still cannot believe my start to the season."
Paire had his ankle strapped trailing 4-1 in the opening set and then lost serve as Federer took a 5-1 lead. The third seed wrapped it up after less than 30 minutes with a service winner.
The second set was equally one-way as Federer went through in well under an hour.
Spanish sixth seed Roberto Bautista Agut advanced over Russian hope Karen Khachanov 6-1, 7-6 (7/4) while 2014 semi-finalist Philipp Kohlschreiber moved to within two victories of his 400th career win after he defeated eighth seed Gilles Muller of Luxembourg 6-4, 7-6 (7/1)
"I didn't know, actually, to achieve my record would be great," the 33-year-old German said. "It would put me in the semifinals.
"But I still have a few years to play on the Tour, so I'm pretty confident that I'm gonna make 400-plus, hopefully."
Spain's Marcel Granollers put out Czech Jiri Vesely 6-3, 6-2 while Guillermo Garcia-Lopez defeated Serb Viktor Troicki 6-4, 6-3.