Roger Federer began his charge for a 100th career title by dispatching Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 on a windy centre court in the first round of the Dubai Championships.
Second seed Federer had to deal with a tricky opponent and strong gusts at the Aviation Club in front of nearly 5,500 fans at the Aviation Club, needing all three sets to make it past the opening round.
The Swiss, a seven-time Dubai champion, had to go up a gear in the third set to advance to a second round meeting with Fernando Verdasco after German Kohlschreiber made a match of it by winning the second.
“I’m just happy to get through, it was tricky conditions out there,” the 20-time Grand Slam champion said after his 14th straight win over Kohlschreiber, his friend and practice partner.
“Philipp caused me a lot of trouble and we played in swirly conditions. All of a sudden it (the wind) could stop and you could be a break down. That also plays in your head a little bit.
“I know the game’s there. It was just really difficult conditions tonight.”
Federer, who is seeded behind Kei Nishikori, swept the opening set after breaking in the first game but was pegged back.
Kohlschreiber, ranked 31st in the world, made a match of it in the second, breaking Federer three times on his way to taking the set 6-3.
The final game of the set was a nine-minute thriller, with the Swiss seed saving three set points before Kohlschreiber levelled the match with a volley winner.
But Federer cruised to the third set and the next round.