Federer survives Raonic ace attack at Madrid Masters

10 May 2012 11:46

Roger Federer sweated out a tough win in his first match on Madrid's blue clay on Wednesday, holding off Canada's Milos Raonic 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 (7/4) to survive into the third round of the Masters 1000.

The Swiss needed two and a quarter hours to beat the 23rd-ranked youngster with 36 winners and 37 unforced errors in a battle which was not decided until a third-set tiebreaker.

"I was trying to weather the storm," said the Swiss. "I don't know where my game is at now and I don't care. I'm happy to train well and be playing some matches."

Federer will Thursday face Richard Gasquet, who beat Serb Viktor Troicki 7-5, 6-3.

Federer held off seven Raonic break points and ended the Canadian's streak of first serve points at 44 for the week.

Federer took victory in his first match since losing in the Miami third round to Andy Roddick on March 26. He has now won 78 of his last 79 matches against players outside the Top 20.

"To do something here means I have to come back in a few hours and play (Richard) Gasquet. It cold be a tough week.

"I'm happy to be playing good tennis. It's a big win, this could create good things. It was a struggle for me tonight. But my level was good. I'm happy were I am this season."

Raonic stayed in the fight with 16 aces and 21 winners.

"If I can get things going my way, I can build confidence. Today I stepped on court believing I could win, and left the court knowing I could have won," said the Canadian.

Spanish clay powerhouses Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer got on and off the controversial blue clay courts as quickly as possible with the Iberian pair racing into the third round.

Second seed Nadal spent 80 minutes in winning his first match against Nikolay Davydenko since 2009, earning a 6-2, 6-2 victory. Fifth seed Ferrer dismissed Czech Radek Stepanek 7-6 (7/4), 6-2 in almost the same match time.

Nadal, leading critic of the dubious qualities of the Madrid surface being trialled amid huge controversy, tried to end talk of the courts and move onto the tennis.

"I played as good a match as I could in these strange circumstances," said the king of clay, winner of Monte Carlo and Barcelona titles last month. "I'm happy with the way that I played.

"The situation is not easy. This is a fantastic tourney, one of the best in the world. My motivation is strong to play here. I had a fantastic result today, I played better than I expected."

But Nadal added a final word on the issue.

"Conditions here are completely different than on the rest of the clay circuit. If this was in the summer or at the end of the season I would have nothing to say.

"I'm not against change but this is the wrong time of the calendar for it. I don't want to speak more on this."

Croatian Marin Cilic overcame eighth seed John Isner 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (7/3) as the big American fired 14 aces in his losing effort. Cilic dodged a bullet with six double-faults including one as he held match points in the second-set tiebreaker.

Frenchman Gael Monfils continued his winning return after more than a month out with an abdominal injury as the 12th seed won as Russian Igor Andreev withdrew with a right shoulder injury trailing 6-3, 1-0.

Compatriot and fourth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga beat racquet-smashing American Ryan Harrison, whose temper tantrum just a few days after leaving his teenaged years, did not help in a 6-2, 7-6 (7/4) loss.

Ninth seed Gilles Simon took a win, beating Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 6-4, 6-3.

There were also wins for tenth seeded Estoril champion Juan Martin del Potro and 11th-seeded Spaniard Nicolas Almagro.

In the WTA second round, Czech Lucie Hradecka beat defending champion compatriot Petra Kvitova 6-4, 6-3 to send the third seed home.

Polish fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska brought an end to the 16-match win streak on clay of Sara Errani with a 6-0, 6-1 thrashing in 65 minutes.

Roberta Vinci struck a blow for Italy after Errani's loss, sending out Belgian Yanina Wickmayer 6-1, 6-2. Errani was fresh from the clay title in Budapest at the weekend.

Top seed Victoria Azarenka reached the quarter-finals over former number one Ana Ivanovic 6-4, 6-4.

French Open winner Li Na moved to the last eight with a defeat of 12th seed Angelique Kerber 7-5, 6-4. US Open champion Samantha Stosur advanced over Petra Cetkovska 6-3, 6-2.