ROTTERDAM: Roger Federer struggled to see the ball and felt the conditions at the World Indoor Tournament were a little too warm for his liking but that did not stop the top seed from romping to a 6-3 6-1 win over Slovenian Grega Zemlja in the first round yesterday.
Playing his first competitive match for almost three weeks, the Swiss defending champion struggled with his first serve in front of a capacity 10,500 crowd but he still completed victory in 58 minutes.
He won 10 straight points in the first set to take a 4-2 lead and from then on Federer allowed his opponent only two more games to wrap up his 10th straight win in Rotterdam.
“My start wasn’t so well because it was warmer on the court compared the training sessions I had the previous day,” Federer told reporters after his match.
“It was also a bit difficult to see the ball in the beginning and while that might sound strange, there also is some pressure of playing a first round.”
Meanwhile, Marcos Baghdatis handed Frenchman Richard Gasquet only his second loss of the season as the Cypriot scored a 6-4, 6-4 win to reach the quarter-finals yesterday. Gasquet lined up in Rotterdam as the fourth seed, having already won two tour titles this season and boasting an unbeaten record apart from a defeat to compatriot Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at the Australian Open.
But the world number 10 never got going against Cypriot Baghdatis, who had also beaten him at the London Olympics last year.
“Richard was probably tired, he’s played a lot of tennis this season,” said Baghdatis.
“He was not at his best and tired from last week,” he added, in reference to Gasquet’s run to victory in Montpellier.
“I’m happy with how I played. I was aggressive at the right time and served well. It’s good to win a match like this.” Baghdatis won in 76 minutes with nine aces and two breaks of serve and will now face Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov today. Meanwhile, Finn Jarkko Nieminen beat German qualifier Matthias Bachinger 6-3, 5-7, 6-3.