Federer cruises past Nieminen in Brisbane
Roger Federer of Switzerland hits a backhand return to Jarkko Nieminen of Finland in their match at the Brisbane International in Brisbane, Australia on January 1, 2014
The Swiss maestro, who has proved hugely popular in Brisbane this week, did not disappoint his many fans as he broke Nieminen once in the first set and twice in the second to power to victory in just 68 minutes.
The former world number one dominated the Finn with his penetrating groundstrokes, but also tried to come to the net many times throughout the match -- a favourite tactic of new coaching adviser Stefan Edberg.
Federer warned his opponents that he would only get better as the tournament progressed.
"I expect myself to play a bit better in the next match, even though today was already very good for a first match in so many weeks, to be honest, and against Nieminen who can play very good tennis," Federer said.
"Now I have doubles tomorrow and the singles the next day, so it's really good for the rhythm and good for your game."
After a cautious start Federer broke Nieminen in the fifth game, coming from 40-0 down to win the next five points and gain the vital advantage.
He then broke Nieminen's first two service games of the second set to take complete control, closing out the match by holding his serve to love.
"It's very special for me playing in front of a crowd that's maybe never seen me before," he said about playing in Brisbane for the first time.
"You want to do well. You try everything. You're very focused."
Federer now takes on Marinko Matosevic in the quarter-finals following the unseeded Australian's 5-7, 7-6 (7/3), 6-4 win over American Sam Querrey.
Japan's second seed Kei Nishikori eased past local favourite Matthew Ebden 6-2, 6-4 to book a quarter-final against big serving Croat Marin Cilic.
Nishikori was in great touch against the Australian, breaking him twice in the first set and once in the second to win in only 61 minutes.
The world number 17 was far too consistent for Ebden, who was unable to make any impression on Nishikori's serve.
Cilic will represent a different challenge for Nishikori, with the 198-centimetre-tall (six feet, six inch) Croat possessing one of the most lethal serves in the game.
Cilic blasted 16 aces in his upset 7-5, 7-5 win over fifth-seeded Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov, and said later his decision to team up with new coach Goran Ivanisevic was paying dividends.
"We worked a lot on the serve during the off season," he said.
"I feel it's in a really good place and it could help me to play much better, especially against the top players."
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