Roger Federer Cruises Past Denis Istomin at 2019 Australian Open

Rory Marsden@@roomarsdenFeatured ColumnistJanuary 14, 2019

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 14:  Roger Federer of Switzerland plays a backhand his first round match against Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan during day one of the 2019 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 14, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)
Michael Dodge/Getty Images

Roger Federer made short work of his first-round opponent Denis Istomin at the 2019 Australian Open on Monday as he prevailed 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 in just under two hours. 

It took the defending champion less than half an hour to get the first set on the board, with a single break proving enough for the Swiss in an opener in which he hit seven aces and 17 winners.

The Uzbek player was immediately on the back foot, and when Federer, 37, got his second break of the match to go 3-1 ahead in the second set, the contest was all but over.

The third seed will now face Great Britain's Dan Evans in the second round as he continues his campaign to win a 21st Grand Slam title.

Federer does not lose first round matches, especially in Australia:

Gracenote Olympic @GracenoteGold

.@rogerfederer has now won all 20 of his 1st round matches at the #AusOpen, a feat only matched by Venus Williams who has won each of her 20 1st round matches at the US Open (Open Era).

The last time he fell at the first hurdle in a Grand Slam was back in 2003 at the French Open.

He was not at his supreme best on Monday in Melbourne, but he was brutally efficient in getting the job done.

Istomin, 32, is currently ranked No. 101 in the world but has been as high as No. 33 in his career.

Uzbekistan's Denis Istomin reacts after a point against Switzerland's Roger Federer during their men's singles match on day one of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 14, 2019. (Photo by WILLIAM WEST / AFP) / -- IMAGE RESTRICTED

Yet Federer made relatively easy work of him, getting his first break in the fourth game of the opening set to go 3-1 ahead.

And Istomin could not get close to Federer's serve—he did not get a break point opportunity all match. 

The six-time Australian Open champion's first serve percentage for the match was only 56 per cent, but when it did go in, Federer won point after point behind it.

Istomin caused Federer more problems in the second set on Rod Laver Arena. But moments of magic at the right time from the Swiss legend meant he never really looked uncomfortable.

A sublime backhand passing shot at 1-1 set up the crucial early break:

#AusOpen @AustralianOpen

Oh my, Roger 😳🔥 #AusOpen | @rogerfederer | @Channel9 https://t.co/AMpxWC4imf

And when he found himself serving for a 2-0 lead, Federer held to love and took the set with an ace.

To his immense credit, Istomin did not fold, saving a break point in an eight-minute opening game of the third set. And he saved a match point to force Federer to serve out the clash.

But Federer's quality was too much in the end, and he marches on to the second round.