Federer celebrates birthday with win

AFP | By, Montreal
Aug 09, 2007 02:09 PM IST

Fans sing praises for the Swiss despite his struggle to carve out a place in the third round of the Montreal Masters against Ivo Karlovic.

Roger Federer had little to sing about as he struggled against the tree-top serve of Ivo Karlovic before carving out a place in the third round of the ATP Montreal Masters.

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But the challenging Wednesday win, by a score of 7-6 (7/2), 7-6 (7/3), as the Swiss turned 26 still served as an opportunity for local fans.

They tried mightily to start the birthday celebrations early, interrupting the tense second set with a sing-along of the Quebecois version of "Happy Birthday" before Federer was later presented with a cake on court.

"I enjoy it, of course," said the Swiss, playing for the first time since lifting a fifth straight Wimbledon title four weeks ago.

"At the same time, I'm struggling to get a ball back against this guy and they're singing happy birthday."

"Are they seeing the same match as me," he said with a smile, four years after last celebrating a birthday in Montreal with a win over Tommy Robredo.

"I remember they sang also very wildly for me."

Despite the difficulty in dealing with Karlovic's bombs - the Croatian rolled over 16 aces - Federer had no complaints about going through.

"I was happy the way I played tiebreakers, both of them. So for this reason, I think it was an excellent match."

Federer took a night off for private festivities, playing host to girlfriend Mirka and fellow Swiss players Stan Wawrinka and Yves Alegro at a restaurant in the Francophile city's old town.

Meanwhile, second-seeded rival Rafael Nadal beat Marat Safin 7-6 (7-4), 6-0 to advance to a meeting with Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu.

The mercurial Safin tossed a broken racket to fans on his way to the loss.

Fourth seed Nikolay Davydenko of Russia took a win over Finn Jarkko Nieminen 6-3, 7-6 (7/5), then ducked more questions about last week's injury withdrawal from a match in Poland which has sparked an ATP match-fix probe.

Andy Roddick, who claimed the Canadian title in 2003, ousted Frenchman Arnaud Clement 6-1, 7-6 (7/5).

Five seeds perished in early matches, with Tommy Robredo the first to go.

The Spanish number seven lost to Dominik Hrbaty 6-2, 6-4 after winning a European clay title at the weekend.

Spain's Fernando Verdasco accounted for French number eight Richard Gasquet 3-6, 7-6 (9/7), 6-4 while Lleyton Hewitt eased through without complaint as ninth-seeded opponent James Blake withdrew pre-match with an abdominal muscle pull.

"I hope (with) four, five days of rest, ice, ultrasound, all the other treatments... it will be OK for Cincinnati," said last month's ATP Los Angeles finalist Blake.

"I need to be careful with the US Open coming up. I don't want to do something that's going to cause some serious damage."

Italian qualifier Fabio Fognini derailed the injury comeback of Andy Murray as he beat the number 13 in a 6-2, 6-2 upset.

Argentine David Nalbandian defeated Spanish number 16 David Ferrer 7-6 (7/4), 6-1.

Murray's winning return lasted just 24 hours as the Briton saw just exactly how much work it will require to return to his top-10 level, never showing peak form in the 68-minute loss.

The 20-year-old said he might not play next week and try training instead in Florida or elsewhere.

"I need to decide if I feel like I can go on the court. But this week was good for me. The wrist is getting better but it's not quite there yet, in a week or two weeks it should be OK. You can't get away from a wrist injury, you use it on every shot. I wanted to play here and see what I could do."

"I need to build confidence with more matches, hard work on the practice court will make me more confident."

Murray returned to tennis this week after repeatedly delaying his comeback from the injury.

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