Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer both won their first competitive matches of the year at the Qatar Open in Doha yesterday but the game's two best players progressed in contrasting fashions. While Nadal swept aside Slovakia's Karol Beck 6-3, 6-0, Federer was made to work for his 7-6, 6-3 victory over the Dutchman Thomas Schoorel.
Nadal, who beat Federer on Saturday when they met in the final of an exhibition event in Abu Dhabi, broke Beck's serve five times. Beck, the world No 103, was repeatedly punished on his second serve as Nadal won in 69 minutes.
Federer, in contrast, had only two break points against Schoorel, the world No 168, though he needed to convert only one of them to go through. Schoorel made frequent inroads into the world No 2's serve but was unable to take advantage of any of his six break points.
Novak Djokovic, the world No 3, looked in good shape at the Hopman Cup in Perth. The US Open runner-up beat Lleyton Hewitt 6-2, 6-4 as Serbia overcame Australia 3-0 to make themselves favourites to win their group and progress to Saturday's final. In the other group Britain's Andy Murray and Laura Robson play their second match today against France, having lost to Italy in their opening contest.
Britain's Heather Watson maintained her progress in Auckland, New Zealand by beating Noppawan Lertcheewakarn 6-1, 6-2. Watson, who should improve her world No 176 ranking in next week's list, was due to face Spain's Carla Suarez Navarro in the second round today.
The top two women's seeds in the Brisbane International lost. Sam Stosur was beaten 6-2, 6-4 by fellow Australian, Jarmila Groth, while Israel's Shahar Peer went down 3-6, 6-1, 7-5 to the Czech Republic's Lucie Safarova. Robin Soderling, the top men's seed, beat Ryan Harrison 6-2, 6-4, but No 3 seed, Fernando Verdasco, was beaten 6-1, 6-7, 6-3 by Benjamin Becker.