Roger Federer remains on course to claim his 100th ATP Tour title at this week’s Dubai Tennis Championships after beating Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-4 3-6 6-1.
The Swiss ace claimed the 99th title of his career in Basel last October and his three tournament appearances since have ended in two semi-final losses plus defeat in the fourth round of the Australian Open against Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Kohlschreiber was arguably the ideal opponent for Federer – the 20-time Grand Slam winner had won all 13 of his previous meetings with the German – and a early break was all he needed to claim the first set.
However, Kohlschreiber rallied to take the second, only the third time he had taken a set off Federer, but it proved to be only a brief respite for the world number 31.
Federer romped home during the final set and admitted after the win he was relieved to have emerged unscathed.
“Somehow get through. Somehow try not to lose,” Federer said in his on-court interview.
“I’m very pleased I was able to find a way. I actually played a really good third set, I thought.”
The world number seven will now face Spain’s Fernando Verdasco, another player he boasts a 100% record against, in the second round after he overcame Italian qualifier Thomas Fabbiano 3-6 6-3 6-2.
Federer is priced at 1.13 to book his place in the quarter-finals and edge ever closer to his 100th title, with Verdasco available at 5.25.