In high spirits: Roger Federer, right, sees the funny side while being interviewed by comedian Will Ferrell. Picture: REUTERS
In high spirits: Roger Federer, right, sees the funny side while being interviewed by comedian Will Ferrell. Picture: REUTERS

Melbourne — Defending champion Roger Federer was quickly into his majestic stride with a straight-sets win over Slovenian Aljaz Bedene in his opening match at the Australian Open on Tuesday.

The 36-year-old Swiss turned the evening clash on a packed Rod Laver Arena into an exhibition as he struck 41 winners to breeze past a willing but outclassed Bedene 6-3 6-4 6-3.

The only time Federer looked remotely stumped came during a postmatch interview conducted by US comedian Will Ferrell who told him that he had played like a "silky gazelle".

"Don’t they get eaten in the end?" Federer ventured before being asked whether he was a witch or a vampire and if his age-defying performances were down to a diet of wombat meat.

While Ferrell provided bonus comedy, Federer again proved that when it comes to tennis he is the king of the jungle.

Any player hoping to stop him retaining his title and claiming a 20th Grand Slam will have to be pretty special on this evidence.

Federer looked just as imperious as when he won the last five games to beat Rafa Nadal in the 2017 final.

Poor Bedene, no mean performer at world No51, can now at least say he has witnessed Federer’s brilliance first hand, having never previously faced him. He played his part in entertaining exchanges but Federer, sporting a diagonal pink stripe on his mainly white kit, was in one of those moods when he could strike at will.

He broke Bedene’s serve in the fourth game of the first set in which he conceded only three points on his serve.

Federer pounced immediately at the start of the second to gain another break and cantered through the rest of the match.

One member of the sell-out crowd yelled: "Give him a chance Rog," late on, but the Swiss was not listening and he finished the match on Bedene’s serve when his opponent netted a backhand.

"I am hoping for another good year," Federer, who also won Wimbledon for a record eighth time in 2017, said on court. "I am not sure it will go that well because I’m a year older, Rafa’s looking in tip-top shape and other guys are coming back."

Federer’s next opponent will be Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff.

Reuters

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