By Patrick Johnston
DOHA (Reuters) - World number two Roger Federer began his season in formidable fashion by defeating holder Nikolay Davydenko 6-3 6-4 to win the Qatar Open Saturday.
The 16-times grand slam champion proved too much for his Russian opponent, claiming a break of serve in each set to complete victory under the floodlights at the Khalifa Tennis Complex in central Doha.
Federer has improved throughout his five matches this week in Qatar, where he did not drop a set, and sealed victory in 79 minutes when Davydenko netted an attempted backhand pass to huge cheers from a capacity crowd.
Davydenko, who brushed aside world number one Rafa Nadal in the previous round, struggled on the back foot during the first set as Federer moved him around the court at will with precision depth groundstrokes.
The Russian, ranked 22 in the world after slipping from a career high third, battled hard throughout, saving six break points in the first set and charging down every ball but was always under pressure on his own serve.
"He played very well for sure, today was tough, he gave me ow chance on the return," Davydenko told reporters.
"I don't want to say I played badly today, I played okay but Federer didn't give me a chance to realize my game. I don't know if he can hold at this level for the whole year."
(Additional reporting by Regan E. Doherty; Editing by Pritha Sarkar)