Tennis: Federer delivers an early statement of intent
It may sound unrealistic coming from a man who in 2009 won Wimbledon and the French Open and finished runner-up in the two other Grand Slam events, but Roger Federer is aiming to improve on his title haul this year.
The world No 1 believes he can win "many more" tournaments than he did in the previous 12 months and hit the ground running yesterday, taking just 57 minutes to beat Belgium's Christophe Rochus 6-1, 6-2 in the first round of the Qatar Open in Doha.
Rochus, the world No 86, was no match for the 28-year-old Swiss, who was aggressive from the beginning and regularly attacked the net. Federer dropped only five points on his serve in the first set, which he wrapped up with his fifth ace. Seven more followed in the second set as Rochus was pummelled into submission by a total of 47 winners. Federer now plays Russia's Evgeny Korolev.
After finishing 2008 with a back injury, Federer decided to focus his energies on the major events and won only two titles outside the Grand Slam competitions in 2009.
"I hardly played any smaller events, but if I'm healthy this year I can win many more tournaments and that could also help get me more confidence," Federer said.
Rafael Nadal is also playing his first competitive tournament of the year in Doha and made a similarly impressive start, beating Italy's Simone Bolelli 6-3, 6-3.
Kim Clijsters, who crowned her comeback last year with victory in the US Open, has already made a flying start at the Brisbane International. Clijsters' cool 6-0, 6-3 win over Australia's Alicia Molik earned her a place in the quarter-finals.
Ana Ivanovic also reached the quarter-finals but was unimpressive in a 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 win over Timea Bacsinszky. (© Independent News Service)