DOHA: Rafael Nadal needed little more than three-quarters of an hour to score his first victory on the 2009 ATP World Tour, his crushing success appearing like an omen of yet further triumphs to come.
The Wimbledon, French Open and Olympic champion won 6-0, 6-1 against Fabrice Santoro in the first round of the Qatar Open, overwhelming the oldest man on the tour with his heavy hitting and relentless energy.
Santoro, a 36-year-old former Davis Cup hero who is playing his last, and a reduced, season, made his first appearance on Wimbledon's centre court only six months ago, and was now playing his first match against the mighty Nadal.
He may have wished he wasn't.
It was not till the ninth game that the clever Frenchman won one, and all his slices, variations of pace and tactical subtleties created little distraction for the muscular Spaniard. Fully 51 of the 66 points in the match were won by Nadal.
Meanwhile, Federer also progressed quickly. The winner of 13 Grand Slam titles started the new tour with an imperious 6-2, 6-2 success over Potito Starace, the world number 71, and now plays a second successive Italian, Andreas Seppi, who is almost 40 places higher.
Federer, who had been at risk of losing his world number two ranking, is now certain to hold on to it at least until the end of the Australian Open on February 1.
That is because Novak Djokovic, the world number three from Serbia, who is a mere ten ranking points behind him, started the 2009 season with a shock loss.