Roger Federer. Picture: REUTERS
Roger Federer. Picture: REUTERS

Halle Westfalen — Roger Federer began his last week of pre-Wimbledon competition with a 6-3 6-4 defeat of Slovene Aljaz Bedene on Tuesday to reach the second round of the ATP Halle grass event.

The world No1 needs to lift a record 10th title at Halle on Sunday in order to remain at the top of the rankings and assure himself the top seeding at Wimbledon, which starts on July 2.

Federer’s straightforward victory in 71 minutes marked his 17th straight win on the grass dating to June 2017, when he lost in Stuttgart to Tommy Haas.

The Halle defending champion, who has a laneway leading to the stadium named in his honour, has won exactly half of his 18 grass trophies at the wooded north German venue.

Federer took back the top ranking from Rafael Nadal for the second time this season last week in Stuttgart as he returned to competition for the first time in three months after avoiding the clay season to prepare fully for the grass.

The 36-year-old Swiss got off to an early break in the opening set against the 72nd-ranked Bedene, who once briefly played for Britain.

The top seed swept up the set and finished off the win after breaking for 5-4 in the second set. The Swiss then delivered a one-two finishing punch of backhand down the line and forehand winner to advance with ease.

He fired seven aces and never faced a break point. Federer next plays Benoit Paire, who defeated American Steve Johnson 7-5 7-6 (7/5).

Home fans were kept happy as Philipp Kohlschreiber advanced 4-6 6-3 2-1 as Hungarian opponent Marton Fucsovics was unable to continue after hurting his left thigh in a fall on the grass.

Kohlschreiber, who lost in last week’s Stuttgart first round, was more pleased with his performance at Halle.

"Today was definitely an improvement," the German said. "The quality was higher and I felt better on court.

"It’s a pity that the match ended as it did. It was a tough fight, I wish him a good recovery as soon as possible."

AFP

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