Australian Open champion Roger Federer was at his sublime best as he trampled France’s Arnaud Clement 6-4 6-3 in the first round of the World Indoor Tournament on Wednesday.
The world number one was joined in the next round by Lleyton Hewitt and second-seeded Spaniard Juan Carlos Ferrero.
Playing his first match since being thrashed by Federer in the Australian Open semi-final, Ferrero overcame Dutch wildcard Dennis Van Scheppingen 6-3 7-6.
Federer extended his unbeaten run to 15 matches as Clement failed to match the class or firepower of the Swiss master.
After losing the first set by smacking the ball into the net with his outstretched racket, Clement faded rapidly in the second.
Constantly wiping his trademark sunglasses between points, Clement failed to stay focused and the Wimbledon champion clinched victory with a scorching forehand winner.
Former world number one Hewitt wasted little time in taking a swipe at the International Tennis Federation about the Davis Cup format following his swift 6-2 6-1 win over Fernando Gonzalez.
Just 10 weeks after winning the Davis Cup for the 28th time last November, Australia were eliminated in the first round by Sweden earlier this month.
“For the fans it is hard to imagine that within two months after you won that prestigious cup you’ve lost it already,” said the 22-year-old Australian.
“But I don’t have the idea that the ITF is listening to the players. For example they could consider giving the finalists a first round bye.”
It was a sentiment also echoed by Ferrero, who missed Spain’s first-round Cup tie against the Czech Republic after picking up a string of injuries during his Melbourne Park campaign.
“It is frustrating to lose in the first round of the Cup after you’ve just won it,” said the world number three, whose Spanish team suffered a similar fate to Australia in 2001 after winning the Cup for the first time the year before.
The defeat in the premier men’s team competition has at least allowed Hewitt to focus on the major tournaments for the rest of the season.
“Davis Cup and the grand slams are my main targets this year... and because of the early Davis Cup elimination my schedule has some more space right now,” he said.
“I just want to do well in the grand slams and if you can win one or two you will have a shot on the number one position again.”
Hewitt stormed into the second round in 55 minutes against Gonzalez, who only arrived in Rotterdam on Tuesday following his victory over Gustavo Kuerten in the final of the Vina del Mar Open in Chile at the weekend.
Champion Max Mirnyi from Belarus saved a match point before overcoming Armenia’s Sargis Sargsian 6-7 7-6 6-1 while third seed Rainer Schuettler reached the quarter-finals with a 6-3 6-4 win over Radek Stepanek.
Blake wins at Kroger St. Jude
Sixth-seeded James Blake got past Wesley Moodie 7-6 (5), 6-1 Wednesday in the second round of the Kroger St. Jude tournament.
Blake now faces Joachim Johansson, who beat him last week at San Jose.
In the women’s tournament, defending champion Lisa Raymond defeated qualifier Galina Voskoboeva 6-2, 6-3, fifth-seeded Ashley Harkleroad lost to Gisela Dulko 7-5, 7-6 (3), and third-seeded Maria Sharapova advanced when Tatiana Panova quit because she was having trouble breathing.
Clijsters into quarterfinals at Antwerp
Kim Clijsters beat qualifier Arantxa Parra 6-3, 6-2 Wednesday to reach the quarterfinals at Diamond Games tournament.
Also reaching the round of eight were eighth-seeded Silvia Farina Elia, qualifier Klara Koukalova and Karolina Sprem. But third-seeded Elena Dementieva withdrew with a shoulder injury.
Farina Elia came back to beat Els Callens 3-6, 6-2, 6-1, Koukalova upset Dinara Safina 6-4, 7-6 (2), and Sprem defeated Cara Black 6-4, 6-3.
Also, Alexandra Stevenson lost to Julia Vakulenko 6-3, 6-1, and qualifier Iveta Benesova eliminated Eleni Daniilidou 7-5, 6-4.
Defending champ Tanasugarn into quarters
Defending champion Tamarine Tanasugarn eliminated Shahar Peer 6-3, 6-2 Wednesday in the second round of the Indian Open.
While the third-seeded Tamarine will be joined in the quarterfinals by No. 2 Marion Bartoli, No. 4 Nicole Pratt, No. 5 Jelena Kostanic and No. 6 Jie Zheng, two seeded players lost.
Angelique Widjaja knocked out No. 7 Maria Elena Camerin 6-3, 6-4, and Mervana Jugic-Salkic defeated No. 8 Lubomira Kurhajcova 7-6 (6), 4-6, 6-3.
Top-ranked Novak Djokovic wasted a chance to serve out the match and was beaten 2-6, 7-5, 6-4 by sixth-seeded Tomas Berdych in the Italian Open quarterfinals Friday.
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