Roger Federer remained on course to book his place in the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals after dispatching Andreas Seppi in a hard-fought encounter in the Shanghai Rolex Masters.
And it doesn't get any easier for the 17-time Grand Slam champion, with the enigmatic Frenchman Gael Monfils lying in wait in the next round.
Roger Federer prepares for a return against Andreas Seppi in the Shanghai Masters, October 9
Federer had to overcome an early break in the first set, before eventually prevailing over Seppi 6-4, 6-3.
"Conditions are pretty quick here so you have to be focused on your own serve," Federer said after the match. "If you're not careful, you can be broken rather quickly. Even though it is quick, that creates a danger.
"Might have not hit enough serves yet, didn't have the rhythm from the baseline yet. Just a tough combination when I got broken. I was able to break back right away still with the used balls. Then with the ball change, I was in the match really.
"It was a big maybe, shall I say 20 minutes going up a set and a break, really started to feel comfortable. Even though it remained tough, Seppi did a good job of hanging around. That's the kind of first round match you want in this particular situation I'm in right now."
Federer is in need of a good tournament in Shanghai to ensure he makes the tour-ender in London, and a win over Monfils will probably mean a quarterfinal against Novak Djokovic.
However, first, Federer will have to negotiate himself past the Frenchman, who on his day is capable of beating anyone, especially when injury-free.
"It's always very entertaining playing Gael," he said. "I love the guy, the way he plays, how he entertains the crowd, shot selection, the way he executes as well. It's unreal really.
"I'm looking forward to it. He's had a tough year. A lot of injuries, a lot of personal things going on. It's nice seeing him back again, trying, finishing strong. He usually plays pretty well towards the end of the season, sort of with Bercy waiting for him in the back there. I played him there on a quick court in the past in the semis and lost on match point maybe.
"I know what he can do. We've played plenty of times. When he's on, he's very dangerous. Plays like a top five, top six kind of guy. That's what I have to expect tomorrow (Thursday)."
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