Federer returns to action with victory

Following two-month break Roger Federer aims for first title win of season which would draw him level with John McEnroe.

    Federer returns to action with victory
    Back on the scene, dressed in green: Federer defeated Stepanek in straight sets [AFP]

    Roger Federer looked as sharp as ever in his first match following a two-month layoff as he beat Czech Radek Stepanek 6-3 6-3 at the Madrid Open on Tuesday. 

    The Swiss chose an eye-catching mint-green shirt for his first match since losing to Rafa Nadal at the Indian Wells Masters in March and secured a 12th victory over Stepanek in 14 meetings.

    The victory set up a possible third-round clash against friend and compatriot Stanislas Wawrinka.

    Stepanek, 34, produced a late rally to break the Federer serve in the eighth game of the second set but was broken himself the next game when he sliced a forehand wide.

    "Overall, I'm very happy, because he (Stepanek) has caused me difficulties in the past"

    Roger Federer

    "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," Federer, who was also sporting mint-green flashes on his tennis shoes, told a news conference.

    "Overall, I'm very happy, because he (Stepanek) has caused me difficulties in the past," said the 31-year-old world number two, a three-times champion in Madrid.

    "Today that wasn't the case and I thought I was pretty much in control."

    Federer is yet to win a tournament this year but if he defends his Madrid crown he will equal John McEnroe's 77 career titles and join the American in third on the all-time ranking behind Jimmy Connors on 109 and Ivan Lendl with 94.

    "Obviously I've had a very successful career, which has been amazing already. More than I ever thought I would achieve," Federer said.

    "I would love to tie McEnroe at 77, no doubt about it. He was an amazing player and brought a lot to the game, like some other great champions and legends have done and paved the way for us."

    World number one and top seed Novak Djokovic, who won his third title of the year at last month's Monte Carlo Masters, plays his second-round match against Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria in Tuesday's evening session.

    Briton Andy Murray, the third seed, meets Germany's Florian Mayer, while fifth-seeded French Open champion Nadal begins his bid to win his home event against France's Benoit Paire on Wednesday.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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