Thu, Aug 20, 2015 - Page 20 News List

Federer starts title defense with win

WITHDRAWALS:Russia’s Maria Sharapova and the US’ Venus Williams exited the Western & Southern Open because of an injured leg and sickness respectively

AP, MASON, Ohio

Switzerland’s Roger Federer returns to Uruguay’s Pablo Cuevas in their match at the Western & Southern Open at the Linder Family Tennis Center in Mason, Ohio, on Tuesday.

Photo: EPA

Roger Federer took a first step toward a seventh Cincinnati title on Tuesday night, beating Roberto Bautista Agut 6-4, 6-4 in his opening match.

The Swiss star won the Western & Southern Open last year for his unprecedented sixth title at the longtime ATP Tour stop. He got a good start by easily handling the Spaniard, whom he has beaten in straight sets in all four of their matches.

On the women’s side, Maria Sharapova and Venus Williams dropped out of the tournament. Sharapova is still bothered by an injured right leg and Williams came down with a virus.

Federer worked out at his home in Switzerland instead of playing in the Rogers Cup last week. He was a little rusty at the outset on Tuesday, but got into a rhythm as the match went along. He did not face a break point during the match that lasted 1 hour, 9 minutes, and lost only three points off his serve in the second set.

“It’s been a while since I’ve had a match,” Federer said. “So that’s what gets you in a different mood, different thinking. You know, I can switch it on very quickly. I only need literally like 10 minutes to really get ready for the match.”

John Isner’s summer surge ended with an opening-round loss to friend and doubles partner Sam Querrey, leaving the top-ranked US player with some things to work out before the US Open. Querrey was steady throughout a 6-3, 7-6 (7-3) win over the 11th-seeded Isner, the first upset on the men’s side.

Isner had won 11 of 13 matches on hard courts this summer, winning the title in Atlanta, reaching the final in Washington and advancing to the quarter-finals in Montreal. He is to rest heading into the US Open.

Isner was worn down from the stretch of matches in those three tournaments.

“I have definitely felt better,” Isner said. “That’s the thing: You put some good weeks together, it can put you in a bit of a deficit the following week, but regardless, it’s disappointing to lose.”

Querrey improved to 4-1 against Isner. He also beat him in straight sets in the quarter-finals at Memphis this year.

The two US players have teamed up in doubles for at least two tournaments each year since 2008. They had never played each other in the first round of a Masters event.

“It’s not that fun, but you know it happens all the time,” Querrey said. “It’s just part of the game. After, in the locker room, we talked like nothing happened, so everything is all fine.”

Sixth-seeded Tomas Berdych and seventh-seeded Marin Cilic advanced with straight-set wins.

The women’s bracket lost two players who were hoping for rejuvenating weeks in Cincinnati.

Sharapova withdrew from the Rogers Cup last week because of a strain in her upper right leg. She had hoped to get some matches in Cincinnati to get ready for the US Open, but the leg was still bothering her.

“I have been practicing here the last few days and I’m just looking at the US Open in, you know, 11 or 12 days,” Sharapova said. “It’s a tough decision to make, but I think a wise one, in order to give myself the right amount of time to be as healthy as I can be for the Open.”

Venus Williams withdrew from her evening match against sixth seed Ana Ivanovic because of illness. Since losing to sister Serena at Wimbledon, she has made first-round exits at Istanbul and Toronto and had to withdraw from Cincinnati after one match.

“After warm-ups, I get a feel for how the match might go or how much you can give or you can’t give,” she said. “I definitely would have liked to have more matches, but I have to use my experience now.”

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