Competing at the record-breaking 21st Australian Open, the six-time champion Roger Federer toppled Steve Johnson 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 in under an hour and a half for a perfect start of the campaign and the season. Federer opted to skip the ATP Cup while Johnson claimed Challenger title last week, finding the winning rhythm but standing powerless against the Swiss who delivered his 98th Australian Open victory and the 358th at Majors overall, 20 years after making a debut in Melbourne.
Landing 80% of the first serve in, Roger fired ten aces and dropped 12 points behind the initial shot, fending off the only break chance and mounting the pressure on the American who couldn't endure it. Federer blasted 30 winners and 13 unforced errors, keeping everything under control with his serve and forehand and mixing his game nicely with 25 net rushings.
On the other hand, Roger won almost half of the return points, delivering five breaks from eight opportunities to have the upper hand from start to finish and march into the second round. Settling into a fine rhythm right from the start, Roger held at love and grabbed a break in the initial games, repelling that break chance in the third game and sailing through the remaining service games to take the opener 6-3.
He needed some 25 minutes to wrap up set number two, barely losing a point in his games and earning convincing breaks in games one and three for a 6-2, racing towards the finish line from there. Johnson couldn't do much in the decider as well, powerless on the return and with two shaky service games at the beginning of the set at 1-3 that propelled Roger into the second round for the 21st time in Melbourne, never losing before the third round here.