Federer dredges up tennis memory to overpower Phau
Melbourne, Jan 15 (DPA) Roger Federer erased a losing tennis memory as he faced a foe he had not played in nearly seven years, beginning his Australian Open title defence with a 7-5, 6-0, 6-4 defeat of German Bjorn Phau here Monday.
Phau beat Federer in summer 1999 in a steaming first-round match at Washington. Since then, the Swiss has gone onto world-class status while Phau has limped along on the fringes.
"I've hardly seen him in the past few years," said Federer.
"I knew he had a good backhand up the line, but I had to feel my way into the match. My serve didn't carry me at the beginning. He put me under pressure and had his good moments," he said.
Federer, the top seed in the tournament, with a dozen titles in 2006 and aiming to reach a seventh straight Grand Slam final, had a slight wobble in the first set as the 83rd-ranked Phau secured a break.
Federer raced into the second round but will work to lower his unforced error count of 29 during the contest, which lasted almost two hours.
"There were more breaks than usual in a straight-sets match, more ups and downs," said Federer. "I missed a few to get broken. But I'm happy that I'm through, it looked like heading for a first set loss."
He managed nine aces and broke on nine of 19 break point opportunities. The win came 48 hours after Andy Roddick beat the Swiss top seed in the final of an unofficial tune-up event at Kooyong club.
Sixth-seed Roddick, by contrast, had a huge battle to get over Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-7 (18-20), 7-6 (7-2), 6-3, 6-3.
The American who is hoping to lift his level back to Top five status, needed an hour for the first set, which number 212 Tsonga won on his tenth set point of a mega-tiebreaker,
Tsonga, 21, was playing the Open for the first time.
Roddick was out-aced by the French youngster 16 aces to 13, with the American also trailing with 41 winners to the 62 of the challenger.
Ninth seed Mario Ancic put a stop to Japan's Go Soeda 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 as Croatian supporters clashed outside the court with rival Serbians.
Up to 150 troublemakers were evicted from the grounds after police and security broke up the battles waged with cans, cups, flagsticks and insults.
"We have the best fans, and they're well-known for their good supporting, correct supporting," said Ancic, who played on his nation's 2005 Davis Cup championships team. "I don't know of any excess ever."
In the women's draw, holder Amelie Mauresmo opened the fortnight's play, easily surpassing American Shenay Perry 6-3, 6-4.
There were also wins for seeds Elena Dementieva who defeated Stephanie Foretz of France 6-1, 6-2 and number 16 Shahar Peer of Israel, a winner over Italian Romina Oprandi 6-1, 6-3.
"A little tension is normal before a Grand Slam, and especially a first round where you don't really know where you are and you want to really try to find a rhythm," said Mauresmo.
"I felt pretty happy to go on the court and to play first today, to go on court and defend a title."