Thu, Oct 19, 2006 - Page 19 News List

Federer makes winning return

UNSTOPPABLE The Swiss No. 1 hadn't played indoors for nearly a year, but it was hard to tell as he cruised past a hapless Nicolas Massu in Madrid

AFP , MADRID

Roger Federer serves to opponent Nicolas Massu during their tennis masters match at the Rockodromo Arena in Madrid on Tuesday. Federer won 6-3, 6-2.

PHOTO: AFP

Roger Federer stepped onto an indoor court for the first time in nearly a year and calmly produced his 15th match win in a row to advance at the Madrid Masters Series on Tuesday.

The record-breaking Swiss, who last played here in 2003, weathered the storm to see off Chile's Nicolas Massu 6-3, 6-2 for a place in the third round after a bye.

After sitting out last year's tournament after rolling an ankle, the world No. 1 could not have been more satisfied.

"I played the big points better than he did," said Federer, whose current winning streak includes another US Open as well as 10 days ago in Tokyo.

Easy does it

"I made it easier for myself. The match could have turned out much harder. This was the perfect result for a first round," he said.

Federer's last ATP indoor match was a five-set loss to David Nalbandian in the Masters Cup final last November.

The Swiss is chasing his 10th title of the season and would thrill Spanish fans if he and second seed Rafael Nadal were to meet in Sunday's final.

Andy Roddick rose to the occasion under the critical eye of coach Jimmy Connors, while Briton Tim Henman made life a misery for the hosts with his defeat of Spain's David Ferrer also on Tuesday.

Roddick fired down his ninth ace to advance over Sebastien Grosjean 6-4, 7-6 (7/3) into the third round.

Henman eliminated No. 14 Ferrer in an inconsistent win, reaching the third round 6-1, 4-6, 6-1 as he played his second match in as many days.

Seventh seed Tommy Robredo clawed back pride for Spain and stayed in contention for the season-ending event in China through his defeat of Argentine Juan Chela 7-6 (7/2), 7-6 (7/3).

The Spaniard stands seventh in the points race after winning 13 of his last 18 matches.

Connors, who has been with former No. 1 Roddick, made what amounted to a surprise appearance in Spain.

The former great had said that he would oversee Roddick's progress at US events only, presumably leaving him with his regular coach during the remainder of the season.

Roddick himself said he never really expected the iconic coach to appear for the European season.

"I spent a week training with him before coming over and he suddenly said he wanted to come over. I don't know if he will stay on for Paris starting a week from Monday, we don't have a plan," he said.

Sixth seed Roddick stands 8-1 against Grosjean after a workmanlike performance at the Madrid arena lasting nearly 90 minutes.

The losing US Open finalist to Federer, who began his European indoor season with last week's Vienna semi-finals, never faced a break point and fired 34 winners on his way to victory.

Roddick admitted to suffering some discomfort.

"My knees are hurting a bit, it's just a bit of tendonitis, nothing serious. I've had it for years and years. At the end of the year after a long schedule, you have your good days and your bad days," he said.

The 24-year-old Roddick remains in the chase for a place in next month's eight-man Masters Cup with just this week and two more left in the regular ATP season.

He can guarantee a spot in Shanghai only if he wins the title at a venue where he stands 2-3.

Grosjean, ranked 30th, reached his second semi-final of the year in Metz two weeks ago. He dropped to 7-4 in Madrid, where he played in the semis in his 2002 debut.

Injury

Frenchman Gael Monfils was taken to hospital for a check-up after being rolled off court in a wheelchair following a running leap which injured his right ankle.

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