Federer puts right spin on easy victory over Gaudio

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The Independent Online

A grey, damp opening day at the Masters Cup here was memorable for the latest amazing shot in Roger Federer's armoury. The world No 1 played an overhead with so much spin that the ball bounced in Gaston Gaudio's court for a winner and then jumped back over the net.

It was a fluke, though such is Federer's skill that anything seems possible. And it was not the first example of the magnetised shot. The great Pete Sampras executed one while playing a dead rubber against Adriano Gaundenzi, of Italy, in a Davis Cup tie in Palermo in 1995.

Federer smiled about his "drop-shot smash", adding: 'I work on it all the time. It's about getting a racket on it, right?'

Federer's magical touch was more riveting for coming soon after a two-hour rain delay before the second game of the match could be completed. The shot enabled Federer to hold for 2-1. He then converted his sixth break point to break for 3-1, after which Gaudio did not win another game in first set, Federer winning the final 14 points.

The Swiss defending champion, who came with the Wimbledon, US Open and Australian Open titles to his name, went on to win the opening round-robin contest, 6-1, 7-6. Gaudio, the French Open champion, was more obdurate in the second set, helped by Federer's inability to convert seven break points.

Federer, who did not face a break point, won the second-set tie-break, 7-4, reaching match point after defying Gaudio's drives with three reflex volleys.

"I was pleased how things went," said Federer, who had not played a competitive singles match for six weeks and had been nursing a thigh injury.