Roger Federer took another impressive step towards his Australian Open title defence on Tuesday with a straight-sets win over Russian Karen Khachanov at the mixed teams Hopman Cup, as many of his main rivals faltered due to injury.
Around the time Federer was warming up for his match with the 45th-ranked Russian, Andy Murray announced he was pulling out of the Brisbane International, while Novak Djokovic a few days earlier withdrew from his season opener in Abu Dhabi.
Rafael Nadal, Stan Wawrinka, Milos Raonic and Kei Nishikori are also under injury clouds, while world number eight Jack Sock succumbed to a hip problem earlier in the day in Perth, forcing him to retire from his singles match.
But there were no such dramas for the elder statesman Federer, who 12 months ago stunned the tennis world by ending an almost four-year Grand Slam drought with a victory at the Australian Open, after also preparing at the Hopman Cup.
“I thought the intensity was great and the level high too,” Federer said.
“It was a good match overall and I was happy with my performance.”