Roger Federer and Andy Murray both shrugged off the rust of enforced layoffs with second-round victories at the ATP event in Indian Wells on Saturday.
World number two Federer, in his first appearance since the Australian Open, beat France’s Marc Gicquel 7-6 6-4, while fourth seed Murray, back after two weeks out with a virus, eased past Spaniard Albert Montanes 7-5 6-3.
French seeds Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Richard Gasquet and Paul-Henri Mathieu all advanced, while Spaniards Fernando Verdasco and Tommy Robredo booked their places in round three.
Federer, who missed last month’s Dubai event and Switzerland’s Davis Cup tie against the United States because of a back injury, was made to work hard by Gicquel.
The first set was nip-and-tuck all the way but Federer won the tiebreak 7-4 and then broke once in the second set, in the seventh game, on his way to victory and a third-round meeting with Croatia’s Ivo Karlovic.
”I am happy,” Federer said. ”I was a bit rusty maybe, coming back from not having played. But it was OK. I’m happy I’ve won. That’s always most important.
”I knew he had a great first serve, great form, great serve, especially first serve. He places it well, close to the lines. He was consistent, I knew what was expected today, and that’s exactly what happened.”
Murray, who missed Britain’s Davis Cup tie against Ukraine this month because of a virus, came from 4-2 down in the first set to clinch victory over Montanes.
The Scot, who now plays Mathieu, said he was not at his best but was delighted with his movement.
”I thought it was the best I have moved in quite a while,” he said. ”I wasn’t hitting the ball particularly well, but I moved well and after I went down a break in the first set I did well to come back.”
Tsonga, the 11th seed, beat Teimuraz Gabashvili 7-5, 6-3, while 23rd seed Gasquet trounced fellow Frenchman Michael Llodra 6-4 6-0.
Tenth seeded Verdasco had little trouble in beating Thomaz Bellucci 7-5 6-1 and Robredo, seeded 15, overwhelmed Igor Kunitsyn of Russia 6-1 6-4.
Number 32 seed Mathieu came through a tough match with Italian Potito Starace, winning 6-4 6-7 6-4. – Reuters