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‘Fed Express’ in cruise mode down under

FEDERER OLYMPICSMELBOURNE, Australia, January 15 – Roger Federer raced to a consummate straight-sets win at the Australian Open on Tuesday, showing few signs of rustiness in his first match of the year.

The record 17-time Grand Slam champion, who went into the year’s first major without a lead-up tournament, demolished Frenchman Benoit Paire 6-2, 6-4, 6-1 in 1hr 23min on Rod Laver Arena.

The 31-year-old Swiss maestro gave Paire little respite with six service breaks, while his own serve was rock-solid with no breaks conceded.

There was little the 46th-ranked Paire could do to stop the cascade of winners off the racquet of Federer, who made a smooth start to his quest for a fifth Australian Open crown.

Federer is bidding to become only the second man after Australia’s Roy Emerson to win five Australian Open titles since his first Melbourne triumph in 2004.

He dominated the points won 95-63 and was on song with his serve, winning 84 percent of the first service points.

“I’m happy, he’s a good player, good talent and I have not played a match this season yet so I wasn’t sure and that’s why you’re relieved when you’re through the first one,” Federer said.

Federer is playing in his 53rd straight Grand Slam event. He could return to the top ranking if he wins this year’s Australian title and incumbent Novak Djokovic loses before the semi-finals.

Federer broke Paire’s serve twice in the opening set, and with a rapier backhand winner in the third game of the following set, and three more times in the final set.

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The Swiss legend has now never lost in the first round in 14 appearances at the Australian Open and has a 15-match winning streak against French opponents.

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