Fri, Aug 17, 2007 - Page 22 News List

Federer cruises past Benneteau to reach third round


Top-ranked Roger Federer downed French qualifier Julien Benneteau 6-3, 6-3 on Wednesday to cruise into the third round of the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters.

Benneteau held serve in three games in each set as Federer did nothing flashy but seemed to rattle his opponent whenever he chose to go to the net.

"It was a solid match today, and I was happy the way I hit the ball," Federer said. "My slice stayed low. I really hit it well, and my serve was solid, too."

Federer said it was a continuation of the way he played last week in Montreal.

"It was a pity I didn't win it," he said of the Rogers Cup. "I really did play well throughout the week."

Rafael Nadal -- his right knee wrapped and his left wrist aching -- retired in the second set of his match against Juan Monaco of Argentina while fourth-seeded Novak Djokovic, who beat Andy Roddick, Nadal and Federer en route to winning the Rogers Cup -- the first time anyone beat the world's top three in a tournament since Boris Becker did it in 1994 at Stockholm -- fell to Carlos Moya 6-4, 6-1.

"I didn't feel nothing when I touched the racket," Nadal said. "I didn't have power in the legs. It was a strange feeling."

Indeed, he never looked comfortable in the early going, barely managing to hold serve twice. He failed to win even a point in his third service game.

Nadal had been bothered by a sore right knee since his Wimbledon final loss to Federer. He said nothing before Wednesday's match indicating any problem with his wrist or arm.

Nadal began to look like his usual self in the eighth game, serving well and dominating. He then broke Monaco to get back on serve, running Monaco from side to side and scoring on two brilliant passing shots, one of which sent Monaco diving to the court in a wild attempt to save a point.

Nadal seemed to be in complete control -- until the tiebreaker. After losing that, he took an injury timeout to have his left wrist and forearm massaged and ice applied to try to relieve the cramping.

When play resumed, Nadal did not win a point in failing to hold serve, and failed to hold again in the fifth game, weakly hitting game point into the net.

Trailing 4-1, he retired, saying it was "stupid to continue playing."

Federer was surprised Nadal and Djokovic were gone so soon, but said their departure doesn't improve his chances of winning his 50th tournament later this week.

"It really doesn't matter who's in the draw, to me," Federer said. "Usually towards the end of the tournament you'll always have the best guys that week in there. If there's a top guy or not, it actually doesn't matter, because the danger is always to be knocked out.

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