Federer passes first test

Roger Federer took the first step towards his record-tying 14th Grand Slam title with a 6-1,7-6 (4),7-5 victory on Monday over Andreas Seppi at the Australian Open...

Written by Associated Press | Melbourne | Published:January 20, 2009 12:12 am

Roger Federer took the first step towards his record-tying 14th Grand Slam title with a 6-1,7-6 (4),7-5 victory on Monday over Andreas Seppi at the Australian Open.

Federer was at his best on the big points on the opening day as almost all of the favourites avoided upsets. But it rarely was easy for even the top players in the year’s first Grand Slam. “He is a very tough customer,he played really well,” Federer said of the 35th-ranked Seppi. “I think I played well,too. I had to.”

Serbia’s Ana Ivanovic had 10 mistakes just in the first five games but managed to advance with a 7-5,6-3 victory over 107th-ranked Julia Goerges,who was even more erratic. Top-seeded Jelena Jankovic,short on match practice after illness hampered preparations for her pursuit of a first Grand Slam title,had 27 winners to just four for No. 104 Yvonne Meusburger while winning 6-1,6-3.

Strong start

The other Serbian star,defending men’s champion Novak Djokovic,started strong then had to rally from service breaks in the last two sets to oust Andrea Stoppini 6-2,6-3,7-5.

Seventh-seeded Andy Roddick was happy to be first up in Rod Laver Arena. He sped off in less than two hours,taking advantage of 31-year-old Swedish qualifier Bjorn Rehnquist,whose style played right into the seventh-seeded American’s strengths. Roddick committed just 10 unforced errors in the 6-0,6-2,6-2 win.

Roddick’s friend and former housemate Mardy Fish had a 6-7 (3),6-4,7-5,6-0 win over local wild-card entry Samuel Groth,but six other American men made first-round exits.

Czech Republic’s Tomas Berdych,seeded 20th,beat Robby Ginepri,and Dominik Hrbaty downed John Isner. Other men advancing were No 8 Juan Martin del Potro and No 10 David Nalbandian of Argentina,No 11 David Ferrer of Spain,No 15 Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland,2005 champion Marat Safin,2006 finalist Marcos Baghdatis and 16-year-old Australian Bernard Tomic. Gilles Muller of Luxembourg overcame No 27 Feliciano Lopez of Spain 6-3,7-6 (5),4-6,4-6,16-14 in a 4-hour,23-minute match.

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