Federer express now back on track

Roger Federer began his quest to win one of the few titles to have escaped his grasp with a 6-3, 6-4 first-round victory over the Czech qualifier Bohdan Ulihrach at the World Indoor Tournament in Rotterdam last night.

Roger Federer began his quest to win one of the few titles to have escaped his grasp with a 6-3, 6-4 first-round victory over the Czech qualifier Bohdan Ulihrach at the World Indoor Tournament in Rotterdam last night.

The Swiss world No 1, playing his first match since losing to Marat Safin in last month's Australian Open semi-finals, overcame early jitters to achieve his fourth successive triumph against Ulihrach.

The last time Federer had lost back-to-back matches was in May 2003and, after a 73-minute work-out, he booked his place in the second round, where he will play his compatriot Stanislas Wawrinka, who pulled off a surprising 7-6, 6-2 victory over Sébastien Grosjean, of France.

Earlier, Joachim Johansson enjoyed his status as the newest member of the top-10 club with a 6-2, 6-7, 6-3 win over the Taiwanese qualifier Yeu-Tzuoo Wang. The Swede, who won his second title of the year in Marseilles last week, recovered from the loss of the second set to win in just under two hours.

Venus Williams swept past Virginie Razzano, of France, 6-3, 6-0 in their second-round match at the Antwerp Diamond Games, a tournament she won in 2002 and 2003. "My tennis was very good," said the American. "But it is no surprise to me because I feel very healthy and have been working well lately."

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