INDIAN WELLS, California (Reuters) - A banner above the showpiece stadium court expressed the views of many of the watching fans as Roger Federer smoothly advanced into the third round of the Indian Wells ATP tournament on Sunday.
“Shhh! Quiet. Genius at work.” was written in white letters on a red background, with a white cross in the middle signifying Federer’s native Swiss flag.
His loyal fans were certainly not disappointed as the 16-times grand slam champion, who had anticipated a tricky opening match at Indian Wells against Russian Igor Andreev, triumphed 7-5 7-6.
In many ways, the scoreline was misleading with Federer in dominant form for most of the 90-minute encounter at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
“I felt always kind of in control in the first set, even though I was down 5-4, and I felt I was in the match quickly against him,” Federer told reporters after clinching the second set tiebreaker 7-4 for his 30th match victory at the venue.
“I had a good 10 minutes where I was able to get up 7-5, 2-0. After (that), he found his way into the match and it really became competitive.
“I really thought it was a good end to the match on both sides. I played a really good tiebreak, which obviously makes things better toward the end.”
Federer has always relished competing at Indian Wells, where he strung together a hat-trick of titles from 2004, and he was in a relaxed mood both before and after Sunday’s contest with Andreev.
“I felt very confident going into the match for some reason,” the 29-year-old Swiss said. “When I was on the golf cart driving to the center court, I was like: ‘Yeah, I feel really good today.’
“I have had a good last six months and I guess it’s given me a lot of confidence. I’m not in a situation where I’m lacking matches like maybe last year at this time around. I think that’s why I’m playing well, too.”
Federer, who lifted the most recent of his grand slam crowns at the 2010 Australian Open, has compiled a respectable win-loss record of 15-2 this season.
He had played in just three previous tournaments, winning in Doha, losing to Novak Djokovic in the last four at the Australian Open and again succumbing to the Serb in the final of last month’s Dubai championships.
“It’s been a good, solid start,” said world number two Federer. “I played well in Qatar, I played well in Australia and I played okay in Dubai.
“I am confident, I don’t have any niggling injuries, I am fresh and that is how I want to feel.”
Federer will face Argentine Juan Ignacio Chela in the third round at Indian Wells on Tuesday.
Editing by Patrick Johnston