Federer makes emphatic start in Monte Carlo

Roger Federer made a welcome return to the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters on Wednesday and opened his campaign in emphatic style, dismissing Radek Stepanek 6-1, 6-2 in just 52 minutes to reach the third round.

The Swiss took a wild card to make his first appearance since 2011 at this ATP World Tour Masters 1000 clay-court tournament. He notched his 24th win at the Monte-Carlo Country Club as he hit 14 winners to nine unforced errors and converted all four of his break points. It was a near-flawless performance from him. Federer moved to a 14-2 ATP Head to Head record against Stepanek.

"I'm a bit surprised how well it went," said Federer. "Then again, it's hard to serve through the opponent. I was able to get a lot of returns back into play. On clay, when you have the upper hand from the baseline, it's kind of hard to get out of it.

"I think that's kind of how it was for Radek today. I had a good start to both sets, then I was solid on my own service games. The next thing you know, you're in the lead and you can hit freely. It was clearly a good match to start my clay-court campaign."

The 32-year-old Federer, who was part of the ATP’s 25-year celebrations in Monte-Carlo on Tuesday evening, is a three-time runner-up at this tournament. The Basel native, who lost out to Rafael Nadal in the 2006-08 finals, is chasing his 22nd ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown and first since 2012 Cincinnati (d. Djokovic).

"I'm very happy now that I'm doing well," said Federer, reflecting on his strong start to the season. "But, of course, I also expect this from myself. So I'm just trying to keep up that rhythm. I feel free physically and in my mind. I'm eager to play, I'm eager to practise. I want to play good points. I'm no longer afraid that the rally will last too long. This was getting in the way of my game last year, whereas now I can really enjoy myself."

Federer faces Lukas Rosol in the third round after the Czech managed back-to-back victories on the ATP Tour for only the second time this season with a 6-4 6-4 win over France's Michael Llodra.

Date: 16th April 2014, Source: ATP


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