Toronto, Canada – By Ian Ransom
Big-serving Russian Igor Andreev had ruffled the Swiss maestro, winning the first set and drawing three chances to take a two-sets-to-one lead serving at 6-5 in the third.
Then, as so many players have done before against the world number one, he blew them all.
Three set points, three netted forehands. Game over.
The players spent another half an hour going through the motions, but a shell-shocked Andreev knew the door had slammed shut well before the final 4-6 6-2 7-6 6-0 verdict.
"Something missed, you know, something went wrong," Andreev told reporters, struggling to make sense of the moment the game slipped from his fingers.
"Today, the key point was third set when I didn't use the set points. Then after that, maybe I went a little bit down in the fourth physically, mentally."
Andreev had been challenged by his girlfriend Maria Kirilenko to take Federer down after she knocked out former champion Maria Sharapova in the first round Monday.
"She put too much pressure on me," he joked ruefully.
For Federer, it was another day at the Melbourne Park office, where he has never been beaten in the first round in 11 appearances.
"A few hiccups, but I think those are more due to his good play and because of also playing against the wind," he said.
"He got tired in the fourth set a little bit. If you can take advantage of it, the tougher player comes through."
Nikolay Davydenko, who upset Federer in their last two matches having lost their previous 10 encounters, is a potential quarter-final opponent.
The Russian dismantled German qualifier Dieter Kindlmann 6-1 6-0 6-3 Tuesday, then said: "Now it's everyone scare(d)."
Federer was not prepared to count himself among the fearful.
"Ask a boxer if he's scared of the other guy. I don't think he's going to say yes," he said.
"I respect him like I do over a hundred other players in the draw."
(Editing by Nick Mulvenney)