In the process, the tennis maestro displayed some care-free hitting, lively footwork, and an air of authority, reminiscent of his greatest days. (Agencies)
Beating Benjamin Becker, the German once ranked in the a top 40, 6-1, 6-4, was some way from suggesting these might return, but Federer did look pleasingly upbeat and confident as he dispatched a competent middle-range opponent in only 62 minutes.
The 32-year-old Swiss legend, now ranked only eight, wants to do well in Dubai to show his Australian open semi-final last month represented a step forward and not backwards, and that his game still has the potential to reach its former levels.
"I'm playing top tennis right now, so I don't need to top that stuff," Federer claimed for his Melbourne efforts, which saw him beat Wimbledon champion Andy Murray and former Australian Open finalist Tomas Berdych.
"For me it's a matter of staying healthy now, staying consistent, and getting to semi-finals and finals consistently and giving myself opportunities really. I feel I am in good enough shape as in a year at least now,” he added.
If Federer wins the Dubai Open title back, he will prevent Serbian Novak Djokovic from equalling his record of five titles here. He next plays the winner between Radek Stepanek, the gifted former top ten Czech, and Michael Russell, the 106th ranked American, and is seeded to play Djokovic in the semis.
Djokovic begins his campaign on Tuesday against Denis Istomin, the world number 54 from Uzbekistan.
In the process, the tennis maestro displayed some care-free hitting, lively footwork, and an air of authority, reminiscent of his greatest days.