Federer, Murray advance in straight sets in Madrid

May 13th, 2009 - 3:29 pm ICT by IANS  

Roger Federer Madrid, May 13 (DPA) Roger Federer and Andy Murray made galloping starts as they hit the clay for the first time at the new Madrid Masters tennis, with the number two Swiss unworried by the chasing Scot, who is keen have a go at the number two ranking.
Federer, seeded second, finished with a pair of aces - 11 in total - as he came back from 2-4 down in the second set to defeat Swede Robin Soderling 6-1, 7-5 in 69 minutes.

Murray was tested in the first set but survived to get past Italy’s Simone Bolelli 7-6 (9), 6-4.

In the points chase, Murray is hot on the tail of Federer, for whom a first trophy of 2009 seems to be the greater concern.

It was all new to Federer, as he played for the first time at the debut edition of the event originally held on hard court in autumn.

“I got off to a good start, and that took away some of the pressure,” said the 13-time Grand Slam winner who will meet either Ivo Karlovic or US player James Blake in the next round.

“(Soderling) can be impossible to break, and at altitude the court is so much faster. I played well and had to get used to conditions. I’d never seen the centre court until I stepped out - though I saw the Lenny Kravitz concert on it last week - but the clay was not there.”

Federer now stands 9-0 over Soderling.

Fernando Verdasco and Tommy Robredo warmed up the Spanish crowd with successful opening acts, 24 hours ahead of Rafael Nadal’s start. With Nadal not starting until Wednesday, crowds at the Magic Box were happy to settle for victories from the Iberian pair.

Nadal, who has won his last 30 clay matches including five titles in a row at Monte Carlo and Barcelona, has been working hard to get accustomed to unfamiliar conditions at 500-metre altitude and on clay, which many players say is not yet ready for prime time at the brand new venue.

The top seed will make his start against Austrian Jurgen Melzer, who advanced over Spanish victim Albert Montanes 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 after two hours of battle.

Madrid seventh seed Verdasco, who stretched Nadal five months ago in an Australian Open semi-final thriller, worked to complete the changing of the guard as he put out former champion Juan Carlos Ferrero 6-3, 6-2.

The 29-year-old, who was the last Spaniard to hold the ATP top ranking before the ascent of the mighty Nadal, has failed to fire after winning a surprise title on clay last month at Casablanca.

Robredo, the number 16, beat US player Mardy Fish as he defeated the Estoril quarter-finalist 3-6, 7-6 (7-5), 6-2, leaving the Californian to head home with his new wife and await the start of the French Open May 24.

After losing the Estoril final, Blake ran his clay form into a second week with his defeat of Victor Hanescu 6-2, 6-4.

In women’s play, 2008 year-end number one Jelena Jankovic took out Slovak Daniela Hantuchova 7-5, 6-2 after Danish ninth seed Caroline Wozniacki beat US player Varvara Lepchenko 6-3, 6-1.

Francesca Schiavone followed up a one-set win Monday over unfit Serena Williams by beating Czech Petra Kvitova 6-4, 6-2.

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