DOHA (Reuters) - World number two Roger Federer began his season in formidable fashion by defeating holder Nikolay Davydenko 6-3 6-4 to win the Qatar Open Saturday.
The 16-times grand slam champion proved too much for his Russian opponent, claiming a break of serve in each set to complete victory under the floodlights at the Khalifa Tennis Complex in central Doha.
Federer has improved throughout his five matches this week in Qatar, where he did not drop a set, and sealed victory in 79 minutes when Davydenko netted an attempted backhand pass to huge cheers from a capacity crowd.
It was a 67th career title for the 29-year-old, who hardly broke a sweat on another warm evening in the tiny Gulf emirate and celebrated victory with a brief smile amongst little celebration.
The Swiss served impeccably throughout, dropping just nine points on his serve as he demonstrated his solid form ahead of defending his title at the Australian Open, which begins in Melbourne on January 17.
“I‘m very happy to kick-off the season today this way I think I played an amazing match... it will give me a lot of confidence for the remainder of the season,” said Federer, who will head to Australia for a week of practice.
Davydenko, who brushed aside world number one Rafa Nadal in the previous round, struggled on the back foot during the first set as Federer moved him around the court at will with precision depth groundstrokes.
The Russian, ranked 22 in the world after slipping from a career high third, battled hard throughout, saving six break points in the first set and charging down every ball but was always under pressure on his own serve.
“He played very well for sure, today was tough, he gave me ow chance on the return,” Davydenko told reporters.
“I don’t want to say I played badly today, I played okay but Federer didn’t give me a chance to realize my game. I don’t know if he can hold at this level for the whole year.”
The second set was on serve until the ninth game when Federer broke Davydenko to love before serving out with ease to claim his third Qatar Open title and collect the trophy, an elaborate golden eagle sat on a perch with a picture of the Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani on the base.
Additional reporting by Regan E. Doherty; Editing by Pritha Sarkar