Federer on form with Madrid win over Stepanek

October 16th, 2008 - 1:22 pm ICT by IANS  

Roger FedererMadrid, Oct 16 (DPA) Second seed Roger Federer returned from his self-imposed break from tennis, showing full energy in a 6-3, 7-6 (8-6) defeat of Czech Radek Stepanekto reach the third round of the Madrid Masters.The Swiss will line up against Australian Open finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga after the Frenchman made his way over Spaniard Marcel Granollers 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7-5) here Wednesday.

Federer took three weeks off after the Davis Cup last month to rest and says he will decide each week what his programme will be through the end of the season.

“I moved OK. There was good spring in my step. My feeling was positive and confident. That’s good to have in first rounds, which tend to be very tricky,” Federer said after the win Wednesday.

Federer’s next task will be to stop the run of Tsonga, who lifted the Bangkok title in September after coming back from spring knee surgery.

Federer came through against Stepanek on his second match point.

“I’m happy to be back on tour. I played Davis Cup indoors, and that gave me some matches,” said the 2006 Madrid champion. “The first round is always going to be tough. I’m very happy to win,” Federer said.

Argentine Davis Cup teammates David Nalbandian and Juan Del Porto set up a repeat of their grudge match from a year ago.

Holder Nalbandian, who is trying to repeat his superlative 2007 indoor season, when he lifted both the Madrid and Paris Bercy Masters crowns, opened his title defence over Tomas Berdych 6-2, 6-7 (5-7), 6-1.

Del Porto, seeded ninth and the form player of the summer with four titles, advanced as injured Finn Jarkko Nieminen quit with a thigh strain to hand over a 6-2, 4-2 victory.

Third seed Novak Djokovic had a close call standing two points from defeat before Romanian Victor Hanescu quit with a groin injury 6-7 (8-10), 7-6 (10-8), 3-1.

Del Porto, fighting for one of the last four spots in next month’s season wrap-up Masters Cup in Shanghai, said he was pleased to have an easy afternoon after quitting last week in Vienna with a toenail problem, now cured.

“I lost against David here in Madrid. He had a great level, and my level was good too. But I’m even better this year and it will be a difficult match,” Del Porto said.

“It’s always difficult to play against him, but I have faith in myself, and Ill try to do my best.”

Gael Monfils got another win for France, beating 12th seed Fernando Gonzalez 6-3, 6-4. Croatian 14th seed Ivo Karlovic rained down 24 aces in a show of force to stop Swede Robin Soderling 7-6 (9-7), 7-6 (10-8).

Feliciano Lopez upset sixth seed David Ferrer in an all-Spanish contest 6-4, 7-6 (7-4).

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