Federer pushes for home rule with run of aces

Roger Federer easily advanced to the second round of the Swiss Indoor tournament here, beating the Czech qualifier Tomas Zib 6-1, 6-2.

Federer, who has never won his home-town tournament, won 12 of the first 14 points, including four straight aces in the third game. "I'm hitting the ball real well right now," said Federer, who finished with 11 aces. "It's good if it stays like this."

The world No 1 has won 20 straight matches and claimed his 10th title of the year last week at the Madrid Masters, but has yet to win here. He lost to Thomas Enqvist in the 2000 final, and then to Tim Henman a year later. He did not play the last two years because of injury.

In tomorrow's second round he will face Guillermo Garcia-Lopez of Spain, who beat Julian Reister of Germany 7-6, 6-2.

Andy Murray has pulled out of the tournament with a throat infection. The 19-year-old Scot, who climbed to 17th in the world rankings this week after reaching the Madrid Masters third round, had been due to face the Argentine Juan-Martin Del Potro.

Murray will fly home today and hopes to recover from his illness in time to take his place in the draw for next week's Paris Masters.

In Murray's absence, Tim Henman carries British hopes here. The world No 38 Henman a first-round match today against Belgian Christophe Rochus.

The 32-year-old has fond memories of Basle, having won two of his ATP tour titles there, in 1998 and 2001, and maintained yesterday that it is a shame the season is coming to a close just as he is starting to find his form. Henman reached the last 16 in the Madrid Open and the final and quarter-final in Tokyo and Bangkok respectively prior to that.

He hopes to continue the recent progress in Switzerland. "In one sense it's a shame the season is coming to an end as I'd love to keep playing this well for a few more weeks," he said.

"But on the other hand it will be nice to go into the off-season having done well towards the end of the year so I can enjoy a short rest before starting my preparations for 2007. I've really enjoyed the last few weeks and I feel a lot more positive about my game than I did a couple of months ago."

Elsewhere in the tournament, Mardy Fish advanced to the second round after beating Jiri Vanek of the Czech Republic 6-4, 6-3.

The American, who missed most of last year with a wrist injury, has moved up to 49th in the ATP rankings since dropping out of the top 100.

* Arnaud Clément thrilled the home fans by knocking out the top seed, Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus, in the Lyon indoor tournament first round yesterday. Clément, who won the event in 2000, needed just over two hours to beat the France-based Baghdatis 6-2, 5-7, 6-3.

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