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Federer into quarters on Rotterdam return

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Originally published on: 16/02/12 09:47

Roger Federer marked his seven-year absence from the ABN AMRO tournament with a straight sets victory over Nicolas Mahut – and promptly earned a bye into the quarter-finals.

The world No.3 saw off the Frenchman 6-4 6-4 in an hour and seven minutes and progressed straight into the last eight after Mikhail Youzhny pulled out of the Rotterdam event with a left foot injury.

“I thought Mahut was dangerous on the day,” said the 16-time Grand Slam champ. “With his good serve and quick plays, it was tough getting a rhythm out there. But I came through, so there is a certain relief there knowing that I’m in the tournament, knowing what to expect and getting another chance to maybe play better as the days go by.”

The Swiss had not lost before the quarter-finals on any of his six previous visits to Rotterdam, where he defeated Ivan Ljubicic for the title in 2005 and finished runner up to Nicolas Escude in 2001.

“To finally come through in 2005 and win the tournament as world No.1 was a great feeling and I can’t believe I haven’t been back,” said Federer. “I’ve tried for many years to come back so I’m really excited to be here. The buzz is huge, I got a standing ovation walking in and walking out and people are really super-happy that I’m here so it’s a really nice feeling to have.”

Fellow 30-year-old, Jarkko Nieminen, may not be one of the happy ones. He faces the task of taking down the Swiss in the last eight, but comes in from the high of winning his second career title in Sydney earlier this year after coming through qualifying. Federer, by contrast, is hoping to claim an incredible 71st tour-level title to make up for the disappointment of a 5-0 drubbing to the USA on Davis Cup duty last weekend.

Two big-hitters both hoping to take a shot at Federer in the final, Juan Martin del Potro and Tomas Berdych, both took a step closer to that goal after winning through to round two. The Czech ousted compatriot Lukas Rosol in 76 minute but del Potro found the going a little tougher against Michael Llodra.

“Llodra has a very difficult game for me,” said the Argentine. “He made a lot of serve and volley, drop shots and slices and it’s not easy, that way, for me.”

Elsewhere, last year’s finalist Milos Raonic defeated Tobias Kamke 6-2 7-6(7) in the first round in San Jose, while Andy Roddick came through his first match since retiring from the second round of the Australian Open despite an injury scare.

The American rolled his ankle in the second set against qualifier Denis Kudla, but came back to beat the Kiev-born American 7-6(5) 6-7(5) 6-4 in two hours and 42 minutes.

“Probably the best thing I did was exist out there,” admitted Roddick.

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