Wed, Jun 25, 2008 - Page 20 News List

Federer storms ahead at Wimbledon

SPENT FORCE?The Swiss ace needed just more than an hour to subdue close friend Dominik Hrbaty, while Ana Ivanovic thrived on the pressure of being world No. 1


Defending champion Roger Federer returns to Dominik Hrbaty of Slovakia during their Wimbledon first-round match at the All England Lawn Tennis Club in London on Monday.


Five-time champion Roger Federer put his growing army of doubters firmly in their place by storming into the Wimbledon second round on Monday.

Top seed Federer took just 79 minutes to brush off injury-plagued Slovakian and close friend Dominik Hrbaty 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 to reach the second round, where he will face tricky Swede Robin Soderling.

Third seed Novak Djokovic, who relieved Federer of his Australian Open title in January and is scheduled to meet the world No. 1 in what could be a blockbuster semi-final, needed four sets to see off Germany’s Michael Berrer.

Djokovic won 7-5, 2-6, 6-3, 6-0 and will face either Russia’s Marat Safin, a former world No. 1, or Fabio Fognini of Italy in the next round.

Australia’s Lleyton Hewitt, the last man to win the title before Federer went on his run of five-in-a-row, was taken to five sets by Dutchman Robin Haase.

The 27-year-old Australian won 6-7 (4/7), 6-3, 6-3, 6-7 (1/7), 6-2 and will face Albert Montanes of Spain.

Argentine seventh seed David Nalbandian, who was the runner-up to Hewitt six years ago, became the biggest casualty of the day when he slumped to a 6-4, 6-2, 6-4 defeat to Canada’s Frank Dancevic. Federer, who strolled onto Centre Court sporting a 1920s-style cardigan, devastatingly illustrated that reports of his demise were premature with his confident win under bright blue skies.

It was also a 60th consecutive grasscourt victory for Federer, whose last Grand Slam appearance ended in utter humiliation at the hands of Rafael Nadal in the French Open final.

Federer, bidding to win a record sixth successive Wimbledon title and unbeaten on grass for six years, admitted it was a relief to be back at the familiar surroundings of the All England Club.

“Every time you walk out the grass is perfect. The roof is back on and that looks more natural and the sun was out,” said the Swiss, who insisted he has not paid any attention to those people writing him off as a spent force.

“I haven’t read or listened to any of it. I was concentrating on winning in Halle [his fifth grasscourt title in the German city]. I played really well and it was great fun against one of my good friends on the tour,” said Federer, who didn’t face a break point in the match.

Djokovic, a semi-finalist last year, was happy to get through his opener.

“First matches can be tricky. I was trying to get used to the conditions. I played better towards the end of it but in general there were some bad aspects in the second set,” the Serbian said.

Hewitt, the 20th seed, said he was still feeling the hip injury which restricted his claycourt campaign to just the French Open.

Hewitt famously lost in the first round here in 2003, but his conqueror that day, Ivo Karlovic, again failed to translate his big serve into success. For the second year in succession, the 18th-seeded Croatian followed his title victory in the Nottingham event with a first round loss here with Germany’s Simon Stadler pulling off a 4-6, 7-6 (7/4), 6-3, 7-5 win.

Women’s top seed Ana Ivanovic of Serbia, fresh from her maiden Grand Slam title at the French Open, was in cruise control seeing off Paraguay’s Rosanna de los Rios, the world 103, 6-1, 6-2.

The 20-year-old now faces French veteran Nathalie Dechy for a place in the third round.

Ivanovic, who took the world No. 1 spot with her victory in Paris, said she was thriving on the pressure of being the top player.

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