Federer satisfied after fighting clay win

April 16th, 2008 - 1:39 pm ICT by admin  

Estoril (Portugal), April 16 (DPA) Roger Federer came through on his 17th ace as the Swiss top seed fired into the second round of the Estoril Open under the guidance of new provisional coach Jose Higueras. The Swiss, who brought Spain’s former champion on board only days ago in time for the clay season, showed that his work ethic is alive and well with a win in two hours over Olivier Rochus 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 here Tuesday.

“I played well towards the end. This is a bit of a relief,” said Federer. “I was under a lot of pressure today, at the end especially.

“Getting through a match like this is good, especially being down a set,” said the winner, who next plays Victor Hanescu of Romania. “I had to come back and fight, but the reward was great. I played well towards the end.”

After dropping the opening set in 40 minutes, Federer, hoping to lift his first title of the season after starting the year ill, roared back to level and increased his grip on his long time Belgian rival on the way to the first-round victory.

Estoril has become Federer’s first small spring clay tournament in the Roland Garros run-up since 2003, when he won Munich.

Higueras is being trialled this week as he aims to transfer his expertise to the Swiss who holds a dozen Grand Slam title but has yet to win the French Open.

Federer is ready to end a dry spell which is into its fifth event. It is the longest he has gone without a trophy since late 2002 and early 2003 when he went seven tournaments.

Rochus, ranked 141 and playing only his second ATP event of the season, said that a right shoulder, which he fears might need surgery, was part of his undoing.

“I knew when I trailed 5-2 in the second set that it would be tough. I’ve known Roger for 14 years, but it’s always an honour to play against him.”

While Federer came through a battle, it was a smooth ride for second seed Nikolay Davydenko, who crushed Austrian Jurgen Melzer 6-3, 6-1.

The Russian only arrived on Monday from Moscow after Davis Cup success and won his last event nine days ago at the Miami Masters over Rafael Nadal.

Davydenko has had a patchy Estoril history, winning the 2003 title, playing the final two years ago but also falling in the first round three times.

Portugal’s outsider Rui Machado shocked Croatian third seed Ivo Karlovic, moving into the second round 6-4, 1-0 as the seed quit with a knee problem.

Federer has a longtime rivalry with Rochus, with whom he once won Wimbledon junior doubles.

Rochus has yet to win in six meetings, but did force Federer to save four match points last summer on grass in Halle, Germany.

Women’s top seed Flavia Pennetta of Italy won her opening round over Austrian Yvonne Meusburger 4-6, 6-0, 6-2 while number two Maria Kirilenko faced a battle before stopping Swiss teenager Sandra Vogele 6-4, 6-7 (2/7), 6-1.

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