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Federer off to winning start in Miami

sports Updated: Mar 30, 2008 10:54 IST

AFP
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World number one Roger Federer shook off his surprising semi-final failure in Indian Wells last week to make a winning start on Saturday at the Miami ATP Masters Series.

Federer, the top seed, beat unseeded Frenchman Gael Monfils 6-3, 6-4 to move into the third round of the 7.54 million-dollar tournament, which also features a WTA tier one tournament.

After enjoying a first-round bye, Federer was playing his first match since he was shocked by then world number-98 Mardy Fish in the first prestigious Masters Series event of the year.

"I think the important thing was don't get in too much trouble on my serve early on in the sets, so I don't fall behind like what happened against Mardy, for instance," Federer said.

"I think it really came down to the big points. Those are the ones I had to win and did, so I'm very pleased."

The Swiss star remains in search of his first title of 2008, the first time since 2000 that he has gone so far into a season without capturing a crown.

In two starts prior to Indian Wells, 12-time Grand Slam champion Federer lost in the Australian Open semi-finals and was ousted by Andy Murray in the first round at Dubai.

The 26-year-old has pointed to a debilitating bout with mononucleosis as slowing his start to the season.

But Federer never looked threatened against Monfils, stretching his streak of victories against French opponents to 20 - a run dating back to April 2005.

Federer earned the break he needed in the first set in the eighth game and served out the set. He broke again in the third game of the second set and closed out the match in 67 minutes.

Federer, who won this title in 2005 and 2006, saved all seven break points he faced.

"I tried to play an aggressive way," Federer said. "I couldn't really chip and charge because I think he's really improved his second serve.

"But other than that, he gives you always a chance from the baseline if you play aggressive enough to come in.

"I'm really volleying well in the last few weeks, so I think that again showed today."

"All in all, I really think I played a very good match tonight."

Sixth seed and 2004 champion Andy Roddick had to rally to get past Serbian qualifier Viktor Troicki 5-7, 6-2, 6-4.

Roddick's usually dominant serve was nowhere to be found in the opening set, and even after he got on terms by winning the second he had to save five break points against him the third.

"I actually don't feel like I hit the ball that badly from the baseline in the first set, but you might as well just play the set with the second serve - it makes things difficult," Roddick said. "And that's really not me.

"I was fortunate to get out of that one," he said.

Roddick is enjoying his best start to a season in three years, with titles in San Jose and Dubai. However, he was surprised in the second round at Indian Wells last week.

Fourth-seeded Russian Nikolay Davydenko also advanced on Saturday, outlasting Latvia's Ernests Gulbis 3-6, 7-6 (8/6), 7-6 (7/3).

Australian Open finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France also had to rally to get past Austrian Jurgen Melzer 6-7 (7/4), 7-5, 6-1.

On the women's side, second-seeded Serbian Ana Ivanovic, who captured the title in Indian Wells on Sunday, won her opener against France's Emilie Loit 6-1, 6-2.

Fifth-seeded Russian Anna Chakvetadze advanced with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Austrian Tamira Paszek, while seventh-seeded Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia downed Venezuelan Milagros Sequera 6-2, 6-1.

Two former world number ones, France's Amelie Mauresmo and American Lindsay Davenport moved into the third round.

Mauresmo beat China's Peng Shuai 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (7/2), while Davenport defeated France's Camille Pin 6-2, 6-1 to book her first career meeting with Ivanovic.