Federer advances to Halle quarters; rain holds Murray in UK

AFP, HALLE, Germany

Fri, Jun 14, 2013 - Page 19

Defending Wimbledon champion Roger Federer made a seamless transition from clay to grass on Wednesday as he cruised into the quarter-finals of the ATP Gerry Weber Open in Halle, Germany, after brushing aside German wildcard Cedrik-Marcel Stebe 6-3, 6-3.

Federer, who is using the tournament as a tune-up for the defense of his title at the All England Club later this month, needed just 67 minutes to see off Stebe in what was the Swiss star’s first outing since losing to Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the last eight at Roland Garros.

Federer, a five-time winner at the ATP event in Germany, but without a title to his name this season, came out firing immediately with a break of serve in the opening game as he raced 5-1 ahead, only to squander a chance to close it out before breaking Stebe for a third time to take the set.

A service break in the second game of the second set then proved decisive as Federer sealed his passage into the quarters.

Next up for the 17-time Grand Slam champion is another German: World No. 156 Mischa Zverev, who beat Bosnia’s Mirza Basic 7-6 (7/5), 6-3 earlier on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, fourth seed Kei Nishikori of Japan was stunned by Russian veteran Mikhail Youznhy 6-1, 6-7 (4/7), 6-3 in round two.

Youzhny, 30, will face one of German pair Philipp Kohlschreiber, the sixth seed, or Tobias Kamke in the next round.



Andy Murray endured a frustrating return from injury as rain ruined his second-round match against France’s Nicolas Mahut at Queen’s Club on Wednesday.

Murray, a two-time Queen’s champion, missed the recent French Open after aggravating a recurring lower back injury during a Rome Masters match against Marcel Granollers last month.

This was the world No. 2’s first competitive action since then and he showed few signs of rust as he took the first set 6-3.

Yet the dark clouds hanging over the west London venue soon gave way to persistent showers and Murray was forced off court three times at the start of the second set.

Murray was understandably keen not to risk injury with Wimbledon looming and the US Open champion made it clear he wanted to come off when a downpour triggered a third interruption with the score level at 2-2.

However, with no sign of the rain ending, play was abandoned at 5:35pm, meaning that Murray was to return today to finish his revenge mission against Mahut.

Earlier, Lleyton Hewitt had an impressive 6-4, 6-3 second-round win over Bulgarian 10th seed Grigor Dimitrov. World No. 82 Hewitt, a four-time Queen’s champion, next faces a last-16 clash against American sixth seed Sam Querrey.

Czech second seed Tomas Berdych, a 6-1, 6-4 winner against the Netherlands’ Thiemo De Bakker, next faces Slovenia’s Grega Zemlja.

Defending champion Marin Cilic, who won the title in bizarre circumstances when David Nalbandian was disqualified during the final for kicking a line judge, started his bid to retain the trophy with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over fellow Croatian Ivan Dodig.

British wildcard Daniel Evans set up a last-16 clash with former US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro after clinching a surprise 6-4, 6-7 (6/8), 6-4 win over 13th seed Jarkko Nieminen of Finland.