DOHA, Qatar -- Roger Federer added to his repertoire of through-the-legs winners on his way to beating Dutch qualifier Thomas Schoorel 7-6 (3), 6-3 at the Qatar Open in his first official match of the season.
After a sluggish first set, the No. 2-ranked Swiss hit form in the second. Leading 5-2 and faced with a ball that changed direction after clipping the top of the net, Federer flicked it through his legs for a clean winner into the corner.
"It's one of the best shots again of my career, one I'm going to look back on and smile, of course," Federer said. " It was quite fantastic."
The 21-year-old Schoorel, playing only his second ATP-level match, managed a smile as the crowd applauded. Schoorel went on to hold his serve, but Federer sealed the win in the next game.
Federer successfully pulled off the shot - also known as a "tweener" - at the previous two U.S. Opens, at last year's Shanghai Masters and at the 2007 Dubai Open.
In the second round, Federer plays Swiss compatriot Marco Chiudinelli, who beat Reda El Amrani 3-6, 7-6 (3), 6-3.
The 16-time Grand Slam champion struggled in the first set against Schoorel, and had to save three set points when trailing 5-4 in the first set.
However, he reeled off five points in a row to even the score at 5-5 and then took advantage of three long returns by Schoorel to take the set on a tiebreak.
"It was a difficult match, especially in the first set," Federer said. "In the first set, he played really well. This player has quality."
Federer broke serve for the first time in the fourth game of the second set before easing to victory in 68 minutes.
"I hope to do well here," said Federer, who won the tournament in 2005 and 2006. "I know (Rafael) Nadal is here and that makes this event very interesting."
SUBSCRIBE AND FOLLOW
Get top stories and blog posts emailed to me each day. Newsletters may offer personalized content or advertisements.Learn more