Federer turns up the heat

Roger Federer steadied after a slow start to beat German Nicolas Kiefer 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 and move into the third round of the $2,45-million Cincinnati Masters on Wednesday.

The world number one from Switzerland, in his first competition since lifting a third straight Wimbledon crown in early July, lost serve twice in the first set against an opponent whom he’d beaten in five of their eight previous meetings.

Federer produced his third victory against the number 38 this season to claim his 60th match win of 2005 against just three losses.

But the match was far from satisfactory for the best in the game.

“I had to hang in and wait for chances,” confessed Federer. “It was a struggle for me at the start. I didn’t find my rhythm and I was not serving well.”

The win was the second average effort of the week for the 24-year-old, who scraped past James Blake with a tiebreaker in the opening round.

“In the second, I got up a break and in the third, anything can happen,” said the Swiss, who next plays former junior doubles partner Olivier Rochus.

“I’m really relieved to get to the third round for the first time here,” said Federer, who stood a dismal 1-4 at the venue prior to the start.

“This is much better than any other year for me.
I’m happy to be playing all right—but I’m not playing great yet.”

The Swiss has a chance to make up ground on Rafael Nadal (65 wins) after the French Open champion was bundled out in the first round on Tuesday night by Tomas Berdych.

Nadal, who is returning home to recharge his mental and physical batteries on the Spanish island of Mallorca after winning his first hard-court title last weekend in Montreal, leads Federer with nine trophies to eight this year.

Kiefer, a former world number four who tends to thrive in the United States, has played four quarterfinals this year—Indianapolis, Indian Wells, Adelaide and Dubai. He now stands 22-17 in 2005.

Former world number one Lleyton Hewitt got past Briton Greg Rusedski with a 1-6, 7-5, 6-4 comeback.

“I get better and better every day, I think,” said Hewitt, who had to quit at mid-match for the first time in his career last week in Montreal due to a stomach virus.

Rusedski dominated in the first set before his rhythm began to slow, allowing Hewitt to work back into contention.

“He was holding serve pretty comfortably there in the first set,” said Hewitt, who dropped the opener in 20 minutes. “He had good rhythm on his serve.

“The way I played the first set I was a bit rough, he served extremely well, though.”

Three more seeds exited on the first sunny day of the week.

Peru’s Luis Horna upset ninth seed Guillermo Coria 6-4, 6-4, Chile’s Fernando Gonzalez put out number 11 David Nalbandian 3-6, 6-1, 6-2 and Croatian Mario Ancic defeated French number 16 Richard Gasquet 6-4, 7-6 (7-4).—Sapa-DPA

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