Melbourne: Swiss world number two Roger Federer had a tussle before dispatching Taiwan's Lu Yen-Hsun at the Australian Open on Monday as he searches for an elusive 18th Grand Slam title. Federer, who is gunning for his fifth crown at Melbourne Park, won 6-4, 6-2, 7-5 in 1hr 53min on Rod Laver Arena and will play Italian Simone Bolelli in the second round.
The 33-year-old, whose last major success was at Wimbledon in 2012, reeled off the opening two sets in just over an hour but found more resistance from the 47th-ranked Lu in the third. The breakthrough came in the 11th game when Federer held three break points on Lu's service and took the game when the Taiwanese overhit a forehand.
Switzerland's Roger Federer reacts after beating Taiwan's Lu Yen-Hsun on day one of the 2015 Australian Open tournament in Melbourne on Monday. Pic/AFP
Federer served it out for the match, protecting his record of never losing a first-round match in 16 appearances in Melbourne. "I thought I was playing very well through the first couple of sets. I was serving very well. I was holding my service games very comfortably," the Swiss legend said. "Until probably 5-2 in the second set was the first time he had any play on my service game. I was returning and able to dominate the plays from the back.
"I think he started to serve better in the third. I think conditions slowed down a bit because of the coolness and the night coming in, I felt it was hard to generate stuff." Federer, who has made the semi-finals for 11 successive years, said it became a tight third set under the cooler evening conditions.
"Instead of sort of just steamrolling through him he really made it tough for me, he was playing some really good tennis," he said. "I started to mix it up and trying out things because I had to. I started to serve better again towards the end of the match and I adjusted to the conditions, because it did play different at 7pm than it did at 8:30pm."
It was Federer's 1,001th career match win after he broke through the four-figure mark in claiming the Brisbane International title against Canadian Milos Raonic before coming to Melbourne. "I'm very pleased to make this one here tonight. Winning first round, it's always a bit of a relief. So it was nice to get 1001 here now tonight," he said.
Despite failing to win a Slam since 2012, Federer shows no signs of letting up as he approaches his 34th birthday, but time is not on his side against a younger generation of stars.