Federer opens Cincinnati defence and back to old racquet

Defending champion Roger Federer opened his bid for a record sixth Cincinnati title with a 6-3, 7-6(7) win over German Philipp Kohlschreiber on Tuesday night at the Western & Southern Open.

"I think it was a match where I had to sort of just fight to come through and hope get over the finish line sort of thing," he said. "I was playing really well at times, and then sometimes it was maybe a bit up and down. But assessing the performance overall, I'm very happy. It's good to be back and playing pain free. My mind's good. I was in a good place while I was playing, so it felt nice to win at the end."

Federer raced through the opening set in 32 minutes. He double-faulted to give Kohlschreiber a break at 4-2 in the second set, but got back on serve in the next game. After saving a set point for Kohlschreiber at 7-6 in the tie-break, Federer capitalised on his second match point opportunity to improve to a 7-0 mark against the German.

Struggling with a sore back, Federer did not play last week's event in Montreal and has not tested himself on the North American hardcourt since Indian Wells in March.

But the former-world number one signaled that he is ready to challenge for an unprecedented sixth Cincinnati title and then perhaps a sixth U.S. Open to add to his grand slam collection.

"It was important to play a clean match," Federer told reporters. "I had a few tough weeks, months behind me, I was happy to play a clean match.

"I told myself I was not going to come back until I felt no pain in my back. Eventually I started to work out very hard.

"It is a tournament I have always played in lead up to the U.S. Open, I like it here. I love the calmness of this place."

After trying out a larger racquet in Hamburg and Gstaad, Federer returned to his Wilson Pro Staff 90 racquet and said he'd be playing with it through the US Open.

"I'm going to do more racquet testing when I have, again, some more time after the US Open," he said. "I was playing for a month with the black one, but it's a prototype. At the end, I just felt like, you know what, right now I feel like I need to simplify everything and just play with what I know best."

Last year, Federer  became the first player in the Open Era to win the Western & Southern Open title five times. He has a 31-7 tournament record, and will play the winner between 11th-seeded German Tommy Haas and Spaniard Marcel Granollers in the third round.

Date: 14th August 2013, Source: ATP and Reuters


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