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Federer cruises past Stepanek

MADRID (AFP) – Roger Federer was happy with his return to action after a two-month break as he progressed into the third round of the Madrid Open with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Radek Stepanek on Tuesday.

The World No.2 had suffered from a back injury in his last outing at Indian Wells at the beginning of March but said he felt comfortable on his first appearance on the clay in 2013 against the World No.48, who he had struggled with in the past.

“I didn’t think I played incredible, but that’s not what I was expecting myself to do here. I didn’t play bad, either,” he said in his post-match press conference.

“I’m very happy with how things went today. Stepanek is a player who can cause a lot of difficulties in the game.

“Today that wasn’t the case. I thought I was pretty much in control. Even though the scoreline seems pretty simple, I did have to fight for it. That’s a very good thing in a first round, I think, now that I’ve been able to win my first round here.”

And the 17-time Grand Slam winner also believes that, with the likes of Stepanek and Tommy Haas having success on the tour well into their thirties, at 31 he still has plenty more years at the top of the sport.

“I made the breakthrough early, but for years I’ve always looked at the long term. I think that will help me to play for a long period of time, hopefully. It was always my goal to play until 35 or more.

“For that reason, I still feel I have many more years to go. You always have to see how it goes in terms of injuries and those things, but it’s definitely inspiring seeing all the other players, many guys over 30 years old, still playing on tour and playing well.

“That’s nice to have that generation of players next to you. Because if I would be the only guy over 30, it would feel a bit awkward, to be honest.”

Federer got off to the perfect start as he broke in the third game before holding serve to take the first set 6-3.

And the World No.2 broke Stepanek again early in the second set to move ahead 3-1 before breaking once more to serve for the match at 5-2.

However, he was then broken himself for the first time in the match as Stepanek finally took a break point opportunity at the eighth time of asking.

That only delayed the inevitable though as Federer broke again in the very next game to seal the win.

Next up the three-time champion in Madrid will face either 14th seed Kei Nishikori or Victor Troicki on Thursday.


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