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Page last updated at 19:13 GMT, Monday, 22 June 2009 20:13 UK

Federer opens with easy victory

WIMBLEDON
Date: 22 June - 5 July
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Federer feels good after opening win

By Piers Newbery at Wimbledon

Roger Federer got his bid for a sixth Wimbledon title off to a solid start with a straight-sets first-round win over Yen-Hsun Lu of Chinese Taipei.

The Swiss star opened proceedings on Centre Court in the absence of injured defending champion Rafael Nadal.

And despite dropping serve early on, the world number two came through 7-5 6-3 6-2 in one hour 44 minutes.

Fourth seed Novak Djokovic had a much tougher time against Julien Bennteau, winning 6-7 (8-10) 7-6 (7-1) 6-2 6-4.

Federer, who is trying to win a record 15th Grand Slam title, will play Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in round two.

With the disappointment of Nadal's withdrawal still fresh, it was down to second seed Federer to take on the job traditionally reserved for the defending men's champion and open play on Centre Court.

Roger Federer

Highlights - Federer breaks Lu to take opening set

It is not an unfamiliar role for the 27-year-old, who dominated at the All England Club with five successive titles from 2003 before his run ended in last year's dramatic five-set final against Nadal.

On his first return to the scene of that defeat, the newly-crowned French Open champion made a surprisingly edgy start, missing a couple of break-point chances in game four and then netting a forehand to slip a break down in game five.

There was little time for the world number 127 to enjoy his lead though, as Federer broke back immediately before taking the set in game 12, and breaking to love again for 2-0 in the second.

That proved enough to seal the second set for Federer and the Swiss eased through the third with two more breaks as his forehand in particular clicked into gear.

I'm very happy with my first round, I thought it was a very solid performance

Roger Federer

"It's very special and it will always remain that way," he said of being first up on Centre Court for the sixth successive year.

"It's a very privileged spot, Monday 1pm, so of course I feel honoured. I know that Rafa deserves it obviously more than I do this year but somebody had to do it, so I'm very happy that they chose me, of course. Gets your heart beating, that's for sure."

He added: "(Rafa) wouldn't have a problem handling it but it's still something he might obviously regret as well a little bit. That made his decision so difficult, I'm sure, as well."

Federer was pleased with his form having chosen to skip the warm-up event in Halle after his draining run to a first French Open title.

606: DEBATE

"I actually didn't even think about it I didn't have a grass-court match yet this year," he said. "It's something I completely forgot about. I just felt good in practice the last few days.

"I had some good practice matches with Safin and Youzhny and Wawrinka. Some good quality players. I felt like I was in good shape for my first round. That's what I remembered, not if I did play a tournament or not before.

"But actually I'm very happy with my first round. I thought it was a very solid performance, because that's what it took today against Lu."

Djokovic came into the tournament saying he was not among the favourites despite being the third-highest ranked player in the draw.

Benneteau, the world number 81, made that prediction look pretty sound when he held his nerve in a tense opening tie-break, and the match remained desperately tight until Djokovic levelled by racing through a second tie-break.

Novak Djokovic

Highlights - Djokovic survives Benneteau test

The Serb dominated the third set before converting his third match point in the fourth, moments after a lengthy injury timeout when Benneteau slipped and twisted his knee.

The former Australian Open winner was pleased to to finish off his victory, saying: "I wasn't trying to think whether he was going to carry on or not, I was trying to focus myself on that point.

"For him to retire on match point would not be a great thing to do though, so I knew he was going to continue.

"Then it was quite tricky for me, but I thought I played the next points aggressively which was good."

Djokovic was pleased with the way he negotiated his opening match, adding: "I knew that I would have to work for most of the points throughout the match, because I was aware of the quality of my opponent today.

"I was really happy physically with the way I was handling things. And this is a big advantage in these big tournaments, in grand slams.

"When you play a best-of-five, it's really important to be physically fit and convincing and confident in yourself so you can rely on your strength throughout the matches.

"I think I was quite fresh, even though we played over three hours.

"It was certainly not a great draw for the first round, but I'm happy to get through."



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see also
Lu v Federer as it happened
22 Jun 09 |  Tennis
Benneteau v Djokovic as it happened
22 Jun 09 |  Tennis
Sharapova battles past Kutuzova
22 Jun 09 |  Tennis
Blake suffers surprise early exit
22 Jun 09 |  Tennis
Serena powers into second round
22 Jun 09 |  Tennis
Battling Robson beaten on debut
22 Jun 09 |  Tennis
Wimbledon: Live map
22 Jun 09 |  Tennis
Results
26 Jun 07 |  Results
Women's singles results
26 Jun 07 |  Results
Order of play
23 May 09 |  Tennis
Men's singles draw
26 Aug 11 |  Tennis
Women's singles draw
28 Jan 10 |  Tennis


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