Federer determined to end Nadal's rein
After facing consecutive defeats by Rafael Nadal, the Swiss world number one gears himself for the Rome Masters.india Updated: May 09, 2006 15:12 IST
Roger Federer has spent hours practicing with left-handed coach Tony Roche in an attempt to end his poor run against the world's best 'lefty', Rafael Nadal.
Federer has won just one of their five meetings and the Swiss world number one is determined to stop the rot.
"Thank God I have a 'lefty' coach," said the top seed after his comfortable 6-2, 6-1 first round victory over Juan Ignacio Chela at the Rome Masters on Monday.
"At least I get to see a 'lefty' sort of spin. I spend a lot of hours with him on the court and I'm going to spend 10 weeks on the road with him right now," he said.
"So I'll get to see a lot of 'lefty' spin and it changes a lot in the game," he added.
Federer, who was absent in Rome last year due to a foot injury, lost to Nadal in the Monte Carlo final last month.
But his most painful defeat to the Spaniard was in the semi-finals of the French Open last year, which Nadal won.
Federer, still missing the Roland Garros title from his Grand Slam collection, next faces Italian Potito Starace, who beat Dmitry Tursunov of Russian in straight sets.
The biggest casualties on day one at the Foro Italico were Croatian number three seed Ivan Ljubicic and American number seven seed James Blake.
Slovakian Dominik Hrbaty beat Ljubicic, while Frenchman Florent Serra dumped Blake out.
Hrbaty, who defeated Ljubicic in five sets in their last meeting in the Davis Cup final in December, next faces Frenchman Fabrice Santoro, who fought back from a set down to beat Argentinian Juan Monaco.
Serra's reward is a second round meeting with Croatia's Mario Ancic.
Ljubicic tried to look on the positive side after his early exit.
"It's always better if you win, but this will give me a chance to train well for the tournaments ahead, for Hamburg and for the Team Cup. Then there is the French Open, so perhaps I can make good use of this time off."
Argentinian Jose Acasuso defeated 11th seed David Ferrer 7-5, 6-0 for his fourth win in five meetings with the Spaniard.
Chilean 10th seed Fernando Gonzalez beat Switzerland's Stanislas Wawrinka 6-4, 6-4 to set up a second round clash with Russian Mikhail Youzhny.
Youzhny disappointed the home crowd by beating Italy's Andreas Seppi 6-2, 7-6 (9/7).
Nadal, who will equal Guillermo Vilas's record of 53 consecutive clay-court wins if he successfully defends his title in Rome, begins his campaign on Tuesday against fellow Spaniard and good friend Carlos Moya.
Nadal chalked up his 47th straight victory on his preferred surface when he defeated Tommy Robredo in the final of the Barcelona Open last month.
First Published: May 09, 2006 11:55 IST