Federer powers past Kohlschreiber

ALL SMILES Roger Federer acknowledges the crowd after his win over Philipp Kohlschreiber at Monte Carlo Masters. AP

All the talk in the buildup to the first men's claycourt tournament of the year had been about the in-form Novak Djokovic and his recent domination of world number one Rafael Nadal.

But record 16-times grand slam champion Federer took the chance to lay down a marker and show he is not yet a spent force by immediately finding his rhythm against Kohlschreiber with forehand and backhand. "It's clearly a good start for me to the claycourt season," Federer said. Second seed Federer, who has never won the title here, has long battled an inferiority complex on clay despite his 2009 French Open title but there was no sign of nerves against the hapless German apart from a mini wobble late in the first set.
World number two Djokovic, who beat Nadal in the final in his last two tournaments, has skipped the event because of a minor knee injury.

In first-round matches, Frenchman Gilles Simon cheered the home crowd with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Brazil's Thomaz Bellucci and Spain's Feliciano Lopez beat Serb Janko Tipsarevic 4-6, 6-3, 7-6. Argentine qualifier Maximo Gonzalez also disposed of Romanian Victor Hanescu 3-6, 7-5, 6-1.

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