Rain Nor Londero Can Stop Federer In Cincinnati Opener
Roger Federer has won more titles at the Western & Southern Open than anyone else with seven. And on Tuesday evening, the Swiss superstar made a good start towards Cincinnati title No. 8.
In his first match as a 38-year-old, rain nor Juan Ignacio Londero could stop Federer, who took a 6-3, 6-4 decision in the second round, winning 83 per cent of his second-serve points in a 61-minute match that was delayed by about an hour during the second set due to a brief downpour.
"[I’m] very happy. I thought it was tricky with the rain delay and everything, but I’m happy to be back on the courts,” Federer said. “It’s totally different to the grass courts and the clay courts we have seen, so this is the beginning of a long, long hard-court swing. So it’s nice to start off with a win."
This was Federer’s first match since letting two championship points slip in the Wimbledon final against World No. 1 Novak Djokovic. The third seed is pursuing his 29th ATP Masters 1000 title.
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The World No. 3 got off to a flying start against this year's Cordoba Open champion, breaking to love when the Cincinnati debutant double faulted into the net at 15/40 in his first service game. Federer quickly raced to secure that advantage, holding for 3-0, and he didn't look back from there in the opener. The father of four struck seven aces and lost just five service points in the first set, which took just 22 minutes
Londero shrugged off his early nerves and held in his five service games after getting broken to start the encounter. And he successfully slowed down the Federer train before rain suspended play at 2-2, 15/15 on the Argentine's serve at the second set.
But in search of his first Top 10 win and Masters 1000 victory, Londero could not maintain his momentum. When the players returned to the court, Federer broke serve immediately thanks to a Londero double fault, and that was the only advantage he needed. The Swiss saved the only break point he faced in the next game with a half volley drop shot winner.
"Conditions are fast. We barely had any rallies in the first set. It was just bang-bang tennis," Federer said. "He had a good forehand. He hides it well with the grip, and because I have never played him before, it's hard to see the release happening. I think he actually can play very well on the faster hard court. He moves well, can take the ball early. He has the option to go back, but maybe here it's just a tad too fast. "
Despite missing out on a match point on the World No. 55's serve, Federer served out his victory, finishing it off with a jamming body serve that went unreturned.
"I liked what I saw. I think he's going to have a good career. He's a good fighter. I saw especially a good fight from him against Rafa at the French Open. And even though he was down two sets to love and a break and you think, 'Well, you know, it's over', he kept believing and kept fighting. This is a quality I respect a lot in a player. That's why I knew it was going to be tough maybe today."
Federer leads the ATP Tour this season in winning percentage according to the FedEx ATP Performance Zone, emerging victorious in 88.6 per cent of his matches. If the 102-time tour-level titlist makes the semi-finals, he will finish the week with the ATP Tour lead in matches won, passing Rafael Nadal’s 41.
Did You Know?
Federer lost his opening match in Cincinnati in three of his first four appearances at the tournament. But since it last happened in 2004, the Swiss has not dropped his first match here once, making the final in his past three visits.