Federer ties Sampras wins mark

Roger Federer opened his campaign for a third Sony Ericsson Open title in impressive style Saturday as he dismissed former Top 10 player Radek Stepanek 6-3, 6-3 to reach the third round.

The victory tied Federer with Pete Sampras on 762 career match wins. “It's a funny stat,” said the Swiss. “But it shows how long I have been around already, how much I've won all around the world and [on] all the different surfaces, and that I have played over 10, 12 solid seasons.”

The Swiss won 82 per cent of points behind his first serve and converted all three break point chances he created to seal his 11th victory in 13 meetings with Stepanek after just 62 minutes. He improved to a 37-10 record at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tennis tournament in Miami, where he lifted the trophy in 2005 (d. Nadal) and 2006 (d. Ljubicic).

“I was able to played solid and keep him moving and serving at a high first-serve percentage, which was the goal as well today,” assessed Federer. “So all in all, I'm really pleased, because I always know the dangers of Radek.”

The 29-year-old Federer is ranked outside the Top 2 in the South African Airways 2011 ATP Rankings for just the 24th week out of the past 400, but has started the season in good form, compiling a 19-3 mark highlighted by winning his 67th tour-level title in Doha (d. Davydenko) and reaching the final in Dubai (l. to Djokovic).

Federer next will face No. 32-seeded Argentine Juan Monaco, who battled past Ukrainian Sergiy Stakhovsky 6-4, 6-7(2), 6-4 in two hours and 33 minutes. In their only previous meeting four years ago on clay in Hamburg, Federer prevailed in three sets.

"Not much I can take out of that match," said Federer. "But I've seen him play for multiple years and he is a good player, nice backhands, good intensity. He was able to come through a tough one [today], which is going to help his game, I'm sure. I'm ready for a tough challenge."

Date: 26.03.2011, Source: ATP


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