‘I know what the other guy is doing’: Federer into 17th Basel quarter-final
The nine-time champion was ruthless in a 22-minute opening set, finishing the entire job in 63 minutes in front of 9,000 fans.
He will on Friday face the winner from Stan Wawrinka and Frances Tiafoe, who both earned straight-set wins earlier in the day.
“It’s a super feeling to know exactly where the ball is going, what the other guy is doing,” said top seed Federer.
“I was hitting a lot of winners, those kinds of moments are really rare.”
Federer’s Swiss compatriot Wawrinka fired 10 aces and 30 winners to overwhelm fellow veteran Pablo Cuevas 6-3, 6-4 to make it into the second round, keeping alive his outside chances of making the ATP Finals.
Federer, who is playing in Basel for the 19th time, won his first set to love at the tournament since 2006.
His loss of just three games on Wednesday was his most powerful showing on the ATP since beating Andreas Seppi at the Paris Masters 6-1, 6-1 four years ago.
“I’m very happy, it was important to start the second set with a break,” said 38-year-old Federer.
“Even though I was playing well, I was not over-confident, I was always worried that he might make a comeback.”
If Wawrinka beats America’s Tiafoe in their second-round match, the Swiss pair will clash on Friday in the quarters.
“I hope Stan goes through, I always enjoy playing him,” added Federer, who holds a 23-3 edge in the series against his close friend.
“I’m glad that he is back (from double 2017 knee surgeries).”
Federer dominated 49th-ranked Albot, sweeping the first eight games before the Moldovan got on the scoreboard.
The top seed finished on a first match point after five aces and five service breaks.
Wawrinka, who was a runner-up to Andy Murray in Antwerp last weekend, currently stands at 15th in the race for the season-ending showpiece in London with 1,500 rankings points available between Basel and next week’s Paris Masters, the final event of the regular campaign.
Six of the eight spots for the ATP Finals have already been secured.
Wawrinka, 34, ended each set against Uruguay’s 45th-ranked Cuevas with aces, breaking once per set to go through to the second round in 67 minutes.
“It was great for a first match,” said Wawrinka, who lost just nine points in 10 service games.
“I moved and served well, I was really focussed. I’m really happy to get through in two sets.”
The seventh seed is playing Basel for the 14th time and improved his record at the event to 12-13.
Three-time major winner Wawrinka said his three-set final loss to Murray in Antwerp on Sunday proved useful in Basel.
“Antwerp really helped me today, I’ve got confidence in my game, the game is there.”
But he refused to speculate on any London chances: “I’m super-far away, so it’s not at all in my mind.”
Sixth seed David Goffin also stayed in the race to London with a 6-4, 6-4 defeat of 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic.
Goffin entered this week at provisional 10th in the race and is dueling with Italy’s Matteo Berrettini, who currently stands eighth, and ninth-placed Roberto Bautista Agut.
Ricardas Berankis of Lithuania lined up a second-round match with third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas after defeating Pablo Andujar 6-1, 6-1.
Filip Krajinovic will next take on fifth seed Fabio Fognini after going past Serb compatriot Laslo Djere, 6-1, 6-4.
Australian Alex De Minaur defeated Taylor Fritz of the US 6-3, 6-3 and Switzerland’s Henri Laaksonen was put out by Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff 6-3, 6-4.
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