Federer Downs Troicki at Japan Open

Wednesday, October 4th 2006, 9:49 am
By: News On 6

TOKYO (AP) _ Roger Federer had a rusty start at the Japan Open before overcoming unseeded Viktor Troicki 7-6 (2), 7-6 (3) on Wednesday to reach the third round.

After a bye in the first round, the top-ranked Federer had trouble finding his rhythm against Troicki, ranked 276th and playing in his first top level ATP tournament.

``It was a really tough match,'' said Federer. ``I didn't know his game. I've never seen him play and it always takes time to figure a player out.''

The qualifier, who beat Spain's Fernando Vicente in the first round, took advantage of some uncharacteristic unforced errors from Federer to make the match closer than it should have been.

It was hardly the performance Japanese fans were expecting from Federer, who is playing in his first tournament since winning the U.S. Open _ his 9th Grand Slam singles title and third major for 2006.

Troicki relied on a strong serve to throw Federer off his game. The 20-year-old Serbian player had nine aces.

``I couldn't get a read on his serve,'' said Federer. ``He mixed it up well. This was my first match of the tournament so I wanted to play it safe and get a rhythm.''

Federer will face defending champion Wesley Moodie of South Africa in the next round.

Moodie, seeded 13th, cruised to a 6-3, 6-4 win over Austria's Stefan Koubek.

``It will be another tough match,'' Federer said. ``Moodie is great server but I got through my first match and hopefully will be ready for the next one.''

In other matches, Jiri Novak of the Czech Republic upset fourth-seeded Andy Murray of Britain 6-3, 7-6 (1).

It was another early exit for Murray, who lost in the first round of the Thailand Open before coming to Japan.

``Every young player goes through stages where he is playing well and tournament's where he isn't playing well,'' Murray said. ``It's not as though I lost to a bad player today, I played better in the second set but just couldn't force it to a third set.''

Jarkko Nieminen beat Germany's Lard Burgsmuller 7-5, 7-6 (2) and will face Argentina's Juan Monaco, who defeated fellow Argentine Edgardo Massa 7-6 (4), 6-3.

In women's play, No. 2 seed Ai Sugiyama of Japan posted a 6-4, 6-3 win over Emma Laine of Finland in the first round and Anabel Medina Garrigues of Spain ground out a 7-6 (3), 7-5 win over Klara Zakopalova of the Czech Republic.

Greece's Eleni Daniilidou, who won the Korea Open on Sunday, retired in the second set of her match against France's Camille Pin while leading 6-1, 1-1.