Roger Federer wasted no time in booking his spot in the third round of the BNP Paribas Open on Sunday evening, racing past Stephane Robert 6-2, 6-1 in just 51 minutes.
The Swiss was on fine form, winning 71 per cent of his service points and converting all five of his break point chances. Victory takes Federer to a 53-11 mark at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, where he has lifted the trophy four times, most recently in 2012 (d. Isner).
After being sidelined for the second half of the 2016 season, Federer made a remarkable comeback at the start of this year, beating Stan Wawrinka and Rafael Nadal in back-to-back five-set tussles to clinch his 18th Grand Slam championship at the Australian Open.
There was a surprise for the 35-year-old Federer last week, though, in his second tour-level tournament of the year in Dubai, where he was upset by Evgeny Donskoy in the second round. The Basel native looks to bounce back this week, but finds himself in the toughest section of the draw, alongside Nadal and Novak Djokovic.
Federer goes on to face American Steve Johnson, who edged Kevin Anderson 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(4) in two hours and 14 minutes. Federer won his one previous meeting with Johnson, last year in straight sets at Wimbledon.
"I thought the match went really well," said Federer. "[It was a] rocky start in the beginning, just finding the groove, finding the rhythm, seeing the ball. I'm very pleased how it went. Moving on to the next round, it's going to be different. It's going to be different match-up [against Johnson], so I've got to adjust again.
"I have to be careful of any letdown after the Australian Open. I think it's real. That's why I'm really out there, like today, pushing myself on, one more point, shot-for-shot, point-for-point mentality," continued Federer. "It's important to see and not look too far ahead and think things are going to come easy.
If you watch Novak today or Rafa, margins are small. If you're not up to your best, you're struggling. You might lose. Saw it with Andy yesterday. It happens so quickly. That's why I'm really pushing for me to have good energy on the court."
Two more Americans were in action on Sunday evening.
#NextGenATP Taylor Fritz recorded the biggest win of his young career as he upset sixth seed Marin Cilic 4-6, 7-5, 6-4 in two hours and 18 minutes. Cilic led 6-4, 3-1, but Fritz fought back to level the match. The 19-year-old American could not close it out as he served for the match at 5-3 in the decider, but regrouped to break Cilic in the next game, leaving the court victorious as the crowd chanted his name.
Fritz, a native of Rancho Santa Fe, goes on to face Malek Jaziri as he bids to post his best run at an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament.
"It's amazing, especially with all the crowd support," said Fritz. "And just being at this tournament, my whole family was there. [My wife] Raquel was going crazy. It was amazing. Just the whole experience with the crowd, how I came back in the match, it's just, like, words can't describe it, really.
"I thought the main thing today was how I returned serve," continued the teenager. "I thought I returned much better than normal. I don't think it's one of the strongest parts of my game. I thought I did a really good job of returning one of the best servers in the game's serve throughout that match.
"Also, I thought I did a pretty good job of competing and kind of just sticking in the match and staying solid."
Jack Sock recovered from a second set disaster to defeat Swiss qualifier Henri Laaksonen 6-3, 0-6, 6-4 in one hour and 40 minutes. The Nebraska native broke decisively in the ninth game of the decider as he set a third-round clash with Grigor Dimitrov.