Roger Federer wins opener on clay

Madrid: Roger Federer fulfilled the expectations that had been generated around his return to a clay tournament after a three-year absence. The Swiss put on a masterclass against Frenchman Richard Gasquet, beating him 6-2, 6-3 in just fifty-three minutes of play. Federer took to the court, dressed all in white, to a standing ovation from the fans that packed the stands in the Manolo Santana Stadium. After the warm-up, the Swiss came flying out of the blocks. In less than ten minutes he had already broken Gasquet’s serve and had a 3-0 lead.

World number one and Australian Open champion Djokovic needed only one hour and five minutes to win 6-4 6-2 against 21-year-old qualifier Fritz, ranked 57th in the world, who he also beat in straight sets at the Monte Carlo Masters last month. Last year’s runner-up Dominic Thiem reached the round of 16 without having to finish his match with American Reilly Opelka, who withdrew due to injury one game into the decider. Austrian Thiem lost the first set 7-6(2) before winning the second 6-3 and was leading 1-0 when 21-year-old Opelka retired.

In first round matches, Monte Carlo Masters champion Fabio Fognini comfortably beat Britain’s Kyle Edmund 6-4 6-3 to reach the last 32, while Stan Wawrinka had a straight sets win over Pierre-Hugues Herbert. Home favourite David Ferrer, who is playing the last tournament of his career, delayed his retirement by beating fellow Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut 6-4 4-6 6-4 and will play German hotshot Alexander Zverev in the round of 32.Kei Nishikori will face Stan Wawrinka in the third round of the Madrid Open after battling past Bolivian qualifier Hugo Dellien on Wednesday.

Nishikori needed just over two hours to win 7-5 7-5 after Dellien saved seven set points during an impressive fightback from 5-1 down in the opening set. The Japanese will go up against Wawrinka on Thursday for a place in the quarter-finals. The winner could play Rafael Nadal. Wawrinka beat Argentina’s Guido Pella 6-3 6-4, with a break in each set proving enough for the three-time Grand Slam champion.

Nishikori has lost his last two meetings with Wawrinka, including a three-set defeat in Rotterdam in February, when his Swiss opponent went on to reach his first final since undergoing knee surgery in 2017. Nishikori’s compatriot and world number one Naomi Osaka is through to the quarter-finals of the women’s tournament for the first time after she eased past Belarusian Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-2 6-3.

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