Cincinnati: Federer, Venus into third round

Published by Reuters

Roger Federer plays a volley en route to a straight-sets victory over Juan Ignacio Londero in the second round of the ATP Cincinnati Masters (Getty Images)
Roger Federer sees off Juan Ignacio Londero in his first match since Wimbledon after Venus Williams stuns No.5 seed Kiki Bertens in a third-set tiebreak.

Seven-time Cincinnati champion Roger Federer, playing his first match since Wimbledon, needed just 61 minutes to dispatch Juan Igancio Londero 6-3 6-4 in their Tuesday night match, which was halted in the second set due to rain.

He joined in the last 16 Novak Djokovic — who saved two match points to beat Federer in a dramatic Wimbledon final — and Venus Williams, who earlier on Tuesday stunned fifth seed and defending champion Kiki Bertens in three sets.

Federer will take on Swiss compatriot Stan Wawrinka or Andrey Rublev in the third round.

“(I’m) very happy. I thought it was tricky with the rain delay and everything, but I’m happy to be back on the courts,” said Federer, who is chasing an eighth title in Cincinnati.

“It’s totally different to the grass courts and the clay courts we have seen, so this is the beginning of a long, long hard-court swing.

“So it’s nice to start off with a win.”

Wawrinka overcame Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov 5-7 6-4 7-6(4) in a roller-coaster first-round match.

Dimitrov clawed his way back from a double break down in the decider to level at 5-5 and after Wawrinka broke again, Dimitrov forced the tiebreak. The Swiss surged into a 4-0 lead but Dimitrov rallied once more before Wawrinka closed out the match with an ace.

American Frances Tiafoe beat Frenchman Gael Monfils 7-6(7) 6-3 and Canadian Denis Shapovalov came from behind to see off Portugal’s Joao Sousa 2-6 6-3 6-2.

Djokovic survived a nervous start to see off Querrey 7-5 6-1, with the world No.1 also returning to competition for the first time since that epic Wimbledon final.

“I made three double faults in my opening game and lost the break. I was quite a nervous at the start,” he said after falling behind 2-0 to the American. “I’m really glad to overcome a challenge like this and get myself going.

“That (Wimbledon final) was one of the most epic matches I’ve been a part of and probably the most demanding one from the mental perspective.

“So it really did take me some time to recharge my batteries, especially in my head. My body was fine.”

Advancing to the second round were seeds Daniil Medvedev (9), Roberto Bautista Agut (11) and David Goffin (16).

Venus dumps defending champ

Former world No.1 Williams, playing what she called “smart” tennis, beat Bertens 6-3 3-6 7-6(4) in the second round on Tuesday before her sister Serena withdrew due to back problems.

After Venus and Bertens split the first two sets, Williams surged ahead 3-0 in the third thanks to some excellent volleying but struggled to put her opponent away, committing numerous errors when serving for the match at 5-3.

Bertens held at 5-5 and then forced a tie-break with an ace.

Williams, however, took control of the tie-break, moving ahead 3-0 and 6-2 before sealing the win.

“I just tried not to go too big, because I can go so big and I have a lot of power and it’s not always easy to control it,” Williams said.

“So I’m trying to play smart instead of going hog wild, which is extremely easy to do.”

German 13th seed Angelique Kerber exited the tournament when she lost to Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit 7-6(7) 6-2. The 23-year-old Kontaveit came from 5-3 down and saved a set point at 6-5 in the opener against the former world No.1.

She broke Kerber twice to win the second set, winning the first nine points, and two holds to love gave her a 4-0 lead.

Swiss 12th seed Belinda Bencic retired with a foot injury when trailing Victoria Azarenka 6-4 1-0. Former world No.1 Azarenka will face Donna Vekic in the second round after the Croatian beat Czech Katerina Siniakova 6-4 6-3.

American Madison Keys beat former world No.1 Garbine Muguruza of Spain 6-7(4) 7-6(5) 6-4.

This saw Keys earn revenge on Muguruza, who knocked her out of Cincinnati in the third round the last time the pair met at the tournament in 2017 despite the American holding three match points.

“I totally forgot I had match points, so thanks for reminding me,” she joked after the match.

“I was just really happy to be able to fight back in that second set and get back into the match. It definitely gives me confidence.

“I think I not only mentally picked myself up but I started playing better in the second and third sets.”

Russia’s Ekaterina Alexandrova wasted little time in beating Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain 6-4 6-1 in 56 minutes while China’s Zheng Saisai beat Viktoria Kuzmova of Slovakia 6-3 6-1.

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