Federer back in winning groove

Roger Federer did not take long to get into the swing of things when he beat Roberto Bautista Agut 6-4, 6-4 in Cincinnati. He had not played since losing in the men's singles final at Wimbledon.
Roger Federer did not take long to get into the swing of things when he beat Roberto Bautista Agut 6-4, 6-4 in Cincinnati. He had not played since losing in the men's singles final at Wimbledon.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Swiss seeks record seventh Cincinnati title as Sharapova, Williams miss US Open warm-up

CINCINNATI • Roger Federer shook off the rust in his first match since Wimbledon as women's drawcards Maria Sharapova and Venus Williams withdrew injured from tennis' Cincinnati Open.

Federer, who took more than a month off after losing the Wimbledon final to Novak Djokovic, beat Roberto Bautista Agut 6-4, 6-4 to improve to a 4-0 record against the Spaniard without the loss of a set.

But the 34-year-old said that he needed time to adjust to match conditions again after his hiatus.

"It was a good win for me, it can only get tougher from here," said the Swiss, seeking a record seventh title in Cincinnati, on Tuesday.

"I haven't played in a long time and I felt a bit rusty at times in the first set. I need matches right now so it was good to start well here."

GETTING HER PRIORITIES RIGHT

It's a tough decision to make, but I think a wise one, in order to give myself the right amount of time to be as healthy as I can be for the Open.

MARIA SHARAPOVA, who has a leg injury, pulled out of the Cincinnati Open and is hoping to be fit for the US Open

Sharapova has not played since Wimbledon and has now missed both the major tune-ups before the US Open, which begins in less than a fortnight.

The women's world No. 2 is nursing a leg injury which also prevented her from competing in Toronto last week.

"It's a tough decision to make, but I think a wise one, in order to give myself the right amount of time to be as healthy as I can be for the Open, which I believe is very realistic," she said.

The Russian was joined by Williams, who cited a viral illness.

The American's withdrawal gave last year's finalist Ana Ivanovic a walkover into the third round.

"I just wasn't able to get out there. Every match, you have to be at your best to win," said Williams, who made her decision after her pre-match warm-up. "I just couldn't be at my best today."

Earlier, controversial Australian Nick Kyrgios, who hit the headlines last week when he taunted opponent Stan Wawrinka in Montreal, was crushed 6-2, 6-1 by Richard Gasquet in their first-round match.

Kyrgios appeared distracted for much of a one-sided contest and summoned the trainer for treatment on his back before he was swept aside in just under an hour.

Gasquet, the 12th seed, converted four of his six break points before sealing victory with his fourth ace of the match. He will next face 19-year-old Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis, who was an integral part of Kyrgios' taunts last week.

Kyrgios, 20, drew the ire of the tennis world in Montreal after he insulted Wawrinka during a match at the Rogers Cup, saying that Kokkinakis had slept with the Swiss player's girlfriend.

Kyrgios later apologised via Twitter for his comments but he was slapped with two separate fines by the ATP which also raised the possibility he could be suspended.

Federer had also been critical of Kyrgios' behaviour. "He definitely crossed the line by a long shot," the world No. 3 told the Cincinnati Enquirer. "We're not used to that kind of talk in tennis.

"It's normal that the tour comes down hard on him and explains to him that it's not the way forward."

Toronto women's champion Belinda Bencic maintained her giant-killing form with a battling 7-5, 6-3 win over higher-ranked German opponent Angelique Kerber.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS


CINCINNATI OPEN

Day 3, session 2: StarHub Ch201, 7am
Day 4, last 16, session 1: 11pm

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 20, 2015, with the headline 'FEDERER BACK IN WINNING GROOVE'. Print Edition | Subscribe