Roger Federer made a comfortable start to his quest for a 100th title, despatching Fabio Fognini in straight sets to ease into the quarter-finals at the Paris Masters on Thursday.
The 37-year-old Swiss had only made a late decision to compete in Bercy after winning his 99th title in his home town Basel on Sunday but, despite a touch of raggedness, was sharp enough to outclass the Italian 6-4 6-3 in his opening match.
Federer’s procession came after Novak Djokovic celebrated his return to the summit of world tennis with an even easier stroll into the last eight after Damir Dzumhur had to retire injured in the second set of their third round clash.
Federer’s return to Bercy for the first time in three years delighted his vast Parisian fan club, who gave him a standing ovation that clearly moved the 20-time grand slam winner.
The Swiss was not at his regal best against the flamboyant Fognini, who calls Federer “the king of tennis”, but then he did not need to be. “Not bad,” was how the Swiss rated his display.
He broke twice in the first five games, prompting the explosive Fognini to hurl down his racket in disgust, but the Italian did claw a break back before the 2011 Paris champion made slightly heavy weather of serving out the set.
After some erratic tennis in the second set, Federer completed the routine job with a fourth break of serve to wrap up a 73-minute win but knows it will all be much harder in the last eight against Kei Nishikori, who beat Kevin Anderson.
In a repeat of Sunday’s Vienna Open final, the in-form Japanese Nishikori gained impressive revenge for his defeat by beating the South African 6-4 6-4.