Federer opens title defence; Will resume normal schedule from next season

Playing his first match in eight weeks, Roger Federer opened his title defence at the Mutua Madrid Open with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Radek Stepanek on Tuesday.

The Swiss advanced to a third-round meeting with either Kei Nishikori or Viktor Troicki as he won his first clay-court match of the season in 81 minutes. His armour was only dented once, as he was broken when serving for the match at 5-2, but he hit back in the following game to claim victory. It was his 12th win in 14 meetings with Stepanek.

"I didn't think I played incredible, but that's not what I was expecting myself to do here. But I didn't play bad, either," said Federer. "So I'm very happy with how things went today. Stepanek is a player who can cause a lot of difficulties in the game. He has caused me difficulties in the past. Today that wasn't the case. I thought I was pretty much in control."

Federer has a 35-6 record in Madrid, beating Tomas Berdych in the 2012 final to win the title for the third time. The Basel native is chasing his 22nd ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title this week.

Federer played down suggestions that extended he may limit his tournament schedule and take breaks such as his recent two-month absence more regularly to extend his career, insisting his goal is to play "at least 15 tournaments per year."

"It's not really my goal, to be honest, to play the minimum amount of tournaments," said Federer, "Of course I'd like to play as long as possible but it's not a matter of playing minimum tournaments - you want to try to win the ones you play, you want to play enough.

"Playing just the minimum means you're often playing very rusty, you don't have momentum, you don't have confidence - it's quite difficult to play that way. This year is a bit different, now I've had this big stretch, but after this, for the year, it's going to be a normal schedule.

"I hope that this is going to be refreshing for me - I haven't been home to Switzerland for seven straight weeks since…I don't know, 1997? And I chose to do that without being injured."

Date: 7th May 2013, Source: ATP and ESPN


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