A rejuvenated Roger Federer believes he is still reaping the benefits of his extended break from tennis after a comfortable opening victory at the ATP Montreal Masters gave him his best start to a season since 2006.
The Swiss star, who celebrated his 36th birthday on Tuesday, swatted aside Canada’s world number 116 Peter Polansky 6-2, 6-1 in just 53 minutes to book his place in the second round.
Federer was joined in the last 16 by top seed and old adversary Rafael Nadal, who made similary short work of his opening assignment.
Nadal, who will depose the absent Andy Murray as world number one if he reaches the semi-finals in Montreal this week, routed Croatian youngster Borna Coric 6-1, 6-2.
Federer is riding high after a spectacular year which has netted him both the Australian Open and Wimbledon crowns.
On Wednesday’s evidence, few would bet against him adding the US Open to that haul after a masterful performance that left Polansky groping at shadows.
A one-sided win gave him a 32-2 start to the season, his best beginning to a campaign since 2006 when he began 38-2 and finished the year at world number one.
Federer attributed his renaissance to rediscovering full fitness after knee surgery in 2016 and taking a two-month break from the game earlier this year.
“I guess for me the key is that I’m actually healthy,” Federer said.
“I knew that when I was healthy, I was going to be able to have chances to win slams again, to play against the best, beat the best.
“That’s also reasons why I’m still playing today. If I felt like I couldn’t do all these things, it would not be enjoyable or I wouldn’t be doing it any more.
“I think the belief was always there. The body always needed to be there, too. I think the break just rejuvenated me … I came in refreshed. It was a different mindset.”