World number two Roger Federer lit up his 2011 season opener with one of his stunning between-the-legs trademark winners en route to victory over Dutch qualifier Thomas Schoorel at the Qatar Open on Tuesday.
The 16-time Grand Slam winner was given a tough opening assignment by his lowly ranked opponent but eventually eased into the second round, where he was joined by world number one Rafa Nadal, who beat Karol Beck 6-3 6-0.
Federer survived three set points in the opening set tiebreak before pulling of the outrageous shot whilst facing the baseline in the second, to seal a 7-6 6-3 triumph.
“I was quite shocked that he went for a winner, so it’s one of the best shots again of my career, one I’m going to look back on and smile, of course. It was fantastic,” Federer said.
Federer, who has previously referred to the style of shot as a ‘tweener’, will next face another qualifier and compatriot Marco Chiudinelli.
Nadal, who complained he was suffering from a fever overnight, had a simpler path to the next round by outclassing his Slovakian opponent.
“I played okay. I didn’t need a lot tonight I think to win, but what I needed I had. So it’s a positive victory. It’s a good start of the year for me,” said Nadal, who reeled off seven successive games.
Nadal will again face Slovakian opposition in the next round in the form of Lukas Lacko.
Other winners in Doha were fifth seed Ernests Gulbis of Latvia, who beat Romania’s Victor Hanescu and eighth seed Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany, who was too strong for Italy’s Andreas Seppi.
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