STOCKHOLM: Roger Federer, returning to the Stockholm Open after a decade away, swept past outgunned American Taylor Dent 6-1, 6-2 in his 900th career match on Thursday.
It took a mere 49 minutes for the top seed to move through, a tennis lifetime after his last appearance at the Kungligahallen which ended with a second-round loss.
The 16-time grand slam champion now stands 727-173 for his singles career and becomes the only active ATP player to reach 900 matches.
Second seed Robin Soderling also advanced with ease at the event where he has lost two finals. The Swede beat German Benjamin Becker 6-3, 6-3 in 67 minutes to next play Florian Mayer.
Federer’s comprehensive victory set up a Friday quarter-final with fellow Swiss and Olympic gold medal partner Stanislas Wawrinka.
"Playing Stan is always difficult," said Federer, who lost the Shanghai final at the weekend to Andy Murray. "He’s beaten me in the past (Monte Carlo, 2009) and he’s beaten top guys like Murray at the US Open.
"We have a great friendship; it’s never easy to play another Swiss guy. It will be a special occasion. I hope to have a good match."
Federer wrapped up the lightning-fast opening set against Dent in just 17 minutes, but had to work to finally take victory by winning the last four games.
He faced two break points in the fourth game of the second set before embarking on his sprint to victory.
Fourth seed Ivan Ljubicic earlier pounded 12 aces to begin his debut campaign at the event with a 6-3 6-4 defeat of Frenchman Arnaud Clement.
Ljubicic was never troubled on the slow indoor surface at the Kungligahallen by Clement, whom he has now beaten ten times in succession.
Ljubicic never faced a break point while breaking Clement on four of six chances in the victory lasting 77 minutes.
"It was a good start for me," said the Croatian, 31.
"I was playing well from the start."
Two-time champion James Blake continued his charmed run at the event as he defeated German qualifier Matthias Bachinger 6-4 3-6 7-6 (7-2) to run his Stockholm record to 15 wins and a single loss, which came in a 2007 semi-final to Thomas Johansson, now the Stockholm tournament director.
"I wish I could take this court with me everywhere," said the American ranked 135 after a year of struggles – now ended – with a knee injury.
Blake won the title in 2005 and 2006. He will play in the quarter-finals on Friday against Finland’s Jarkko Nieminen, whom he defeated in the 2006 final and a quarter-final at the next edition.
Stockholm is one of three cities (New Haven, Sydney) where he has lifted two titles.