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Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 October, 2003, 16:23 GMT
Federer sees off Ascione
Switzerland's Roger Federer overcame a stirring first-set challenge from Thierry Ascione to ease into the third round of the Paris Masters.

The number three seed beat the French qualifier 7-6 (7-5) 6-1 on Wednesday.

It was a tense opening set as Federer's unforced errors allowed his opponent to reel off three service games to love.

But he held on before cruising through the second set to book a third round tie against either Martin Verkerk from Holland or Slovakia's Dominik Hrbaty.

Everything went better in the second set, particularly my service and return
Roger Federer
The Wimbledon champion attributed his shakey start against Ascione to a back problem he picked up during the Swiss Indoors last week.

"I didn't practice for four days and I wasn't sure I was going to make it. I couldn't force it too much... I kept the points short and didn't use up too much energy," he said afterwards.

"Everything went better in the second set, particularly my service and return, and I can play full out for the rest of the tournament."

Federer is currently in a three-way tussle with world number one Juan Carlos Ferrero and Andy Roddick to finish top of the year-end rankings.

Earlier, fourth seed Guillermo Coria safely advanced to the next round with a 6-3 3-6 6-3 win over Feliciano Lopez.

Coria next meets Andrei Pavel of Romania who beat Felix Mantilla of Spain 7-5 7-6 (8-6).

Jonas Bjorkman of Sweden is also in round three following a 6-4 6-1 victory over Nicolas Lapentti, a last-minute replacement for David Nalbandian.

The sixth seed pulled out on Wednesday morning with a left wrist injury.

But 11th seed Sjeng Schalken suffered an upset losing to French qualifier Gregory Carraz 6-4 2-6 6-3.

Jiri Novak, the 14th seed, looked in trouble when he allowed an inspired Fabrice Santoro to level their second-round encounter.

However, Novak stormed through the decider to clinch a 6-4 4-6 6-0 victory.

An out-of-sorts Rainer Schuettler survived a scare before seeing off James Blake 4-6 6-2 6-3.





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