Federer wins first indoor match since November

None | ByAssociated Press, Madrid
Oct 18, 2006 01:59 PM IST

Top-ranked Roger Federer won his first indoor tournament match in almost a year, while David Nalbandian rallied to reach the third round at the Madrid Masters.

Top-ranked Roger Federer won his first indoor tournament match in almost a year, while fourth-ranked David Nalbandian rallied to reach the third round at the Madrid Masters on Tuesday.

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Federer had 28 winners and broke Nicolas Massu three times - including twice in the final set - for the 6-3, 6-2 win, his first indoor victory on the ATP tour since a five-set loss to Nalbandian in the Masters Cup final last November.

"It's always nice to beat the Olympic champion," Federer said. "I think I played the big points better than he did. This is a good surface for my game, and it's a perfect result for the first round."

Nalbandian trailed French qualifier Julien Benneteau 5-2 in the final set before rallying with two crucial breaks for the 6-7 (4), 6-2, 7-5 win.

Former winner Marat Safin capitalized on 15 unforced errors by Jose Acasuso for a 7-6 (5), 6-7 (4), 6-3 win. The 2004 champion had five aces to beat the Argentine for the first time in three meetings.

Safin advanced to face ninth-ranked Marcos Baghdatis, while Nalbandian will play wild-card Tim Henman, who beat Spaniard David Ferrer.

Federer's round-of-16 opponent will either be Robin Soderling or former No. 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero - who eliminated the Swiss in the semifinals on his way to the title in 2003.

"At that time we were both fighting for No. 1 and he played really well then," Federer said of Ferrero. "I always enjoy playing against him, and any former No. 1."

Sixth-seeded Andy Roddick and No. 7 Tommy Robredo also moved into the third round.

Roddick defeated Sebastien Grosjean 6-4, 7-6 (3) for an eighth straight time, his heavy serve forcing the Frenchman into 24 unforced errors.

"Unfortunately for Sebastien, I've played well against him," Roddick said after his first win in Madrid in three years. "But you have good days and you have bad days and I don't know if today was that great."

Robredo twice came from behind to beat Juan Ignacio Chela 7-6 (2), 7-6 (3). Chela served for each set at 6-5, but the eighth-ranked Spaniard, who won the Hamburg Masters in May, broke him both times to force the tiebreakers.

Among first-round matches, Dominik Hrbaty of Slovakia advanced after Gael Monfils retired with a season-ending ankle injury while leading 6-3, 2-2.

The Frenchman rolled his right ankle in the second set after celebrating a point. Monfils, who had been sidelined since the U.S. Open with a stress fracture in his left foot, had his ankle wrapped before being taken away in a wheelchair.

Trainer Bill Norris said Monfils' sprained ankle will keep him out of action for four weeks and end his season.

In other first round matches, Swedish qualifier Joachim Johansson, Kristof Vliegen of Belgium, Frenchman Richard Gasquet, and Soderling all advanced.

On Wednesday, defending champion Rafael Nadal faces American Mardy Fish, while Britain's Andy Murray plays 2005 finalist Ivan Ljubicic.

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