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Page last updated at 19:10 GMT, Monday, 23 June 2008 20:10 UK

Champion Federer lays down marker

By Caroline Cheese and Chris Bevan
BBC Sport at Wimbledon


Roger Federer
Federer effortlessly notched up his 60th straight win on grass

World number one Roger Federer backed up his claim that he is the title favourite with a commanding display in his opening match at Wimbledon.

The 26-year-old won the first 11 points against Slovakian Dominik Hrbaty on his way to a crushing 6-3 6-2 6-2 victory.

Hrbaty had won both his previous matches against the world number one but never looked like causing an upset.

Third seed Novak Djokovic also made progress but had to work much harder to beat Michael Berrer 7-5 2-6 6-3 6-0.

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Djokovic looked out of sorts as he dropped the second set but recovered to claim what was eventually a convincing victory.

Berrer, who had lost his five previous matches ahead of Wimbledon, had the power to test the Serb but his lack of mobility eventually cost him dear.

The big German ran out of steam on Centre Court and Djokovic was well in control by the time he served out for victory.

In round two he faces former Wimbledon quarter-finalist Marat Safin.

Federer had much less to worry about as he kicked off his title defence in style.

606: DEBATE
The world number one is seeking a record sixth straight title at the All England Club, but he is no longer the overwhelming favourite.

His tally of just two titles this season along with some surprising defeats have left many tipping Rafael Nadal or even Djokovic to claim the title.

"I haven't been reading and I haven't been listening to what has been said," insisted Federer.

"I've been working in there as defending champion, opening Centre Court, trying to defend the title again. That's all that mattered to me.

'Fun' first-round victory for Federer

"I came from a good tournament in Halle. I couldn't do any better than not dropping a set, not dropping a service game, so I feel like I'm right there to do the same thing again this week."

The top seed, who is now unbeaten in 60 straight matches on grass, showed he had lost none of his confidence by arriving on court in a chunky cardigan.

And he went on to show off his full repertoire of grass-court skills - albeit against a struggling opponent.

Federer had won 11 points before Hrbaty could reply, and that was only a brief reprieve as the Swiss went on to serve out from 40-15 for a 3-0 lead.

Hrbaty is one of only three active players with a winning record against Federer, the others being Nadal and Andy Murray, but his ranking has dropped to 272nd after missing most of last season.

The Slovakian managed only flashes of brilliance - including a crowd-pleasing through-the-legs passing shot at 1-4 down in the first set - but he was otherwise outclassed, dropping serve again at the start of the second set as Federer went through the gears.

Hrbaty again earned warm applause from the Centre Court crowd when at 2-5 down in the third set, he went and sat next to his former doubles partner at the changeover.

But Federer was ruthless to the last, serving out a comprehensive win to love to set up a second-round meeting with Sweden's Robin Soderling.

Hrbaty foils Fed with a lucky shot

"I played well. It was a good match and good fun and the first time I have ever beaten him," said Federer.

"We go way back. We used to play doubles together and used to practise a lot together.

"He also taught me a little bit about how you're supposed to practise because I was a little bit weak in the beginning of my career."

Djokovic was also pleased with his performance, although he admitted he lost his way badly in the second set.

Berrer, who had been edged out in a tight opening set, looked inspired as he broke serve twice in quick succession and Djokovic initially struggled to find a response.

The Serb raised his game, however, and feels he is in good shape ahead of a meeting with either Marat Safin or Italy's Fabio Fognini in round two.

"The third and fourth sets were pretty good," Djokovic explained. "They were very comfortable and I felt better.

"My performance in the second set was pretty bad but I started to play better towards the end of the match and it is normal to have ups and downs in a match.

"It is not easy coming out on Centre Court on the first day - the grass is new, expectations are high and there are plenty of people who want to see you fall - I am happy to get through."


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see also
Federer v Hrbaty as it happened
23 Jun 08 |  Tennis
Wimbledon day one photos
23 Jun 08 |  Tennis
Ivanovic cruises through opener
23 Jun 08 |  Tennis


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